Tokyo - Exploring the best city in the world Past Review

By (Wellesley College) - abroad from 03/28/2018 to 07/31/2018 with

CIEE: Tokyo - Arts and Sciences

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
It was so worthwhile. I got a very different perspective, not just on America, and living abroad, and the work culture at my home school, but also on myself and what is important to me. As much as Japanese culture excepts conformity, Tokyo as a city somehow forces you to be yourself by finding the pieces of it that make you happy.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 2 weeks - 1 month

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

The workload at Sophia University was much easier than my home institution, but that was perfect for being abroad in Tokyo. I loved my classes, and learned a lot, both of Japanese, and about Japanese culture, but they did not take over my life and keep me from experiencing life abroad.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

They were amazing! They held so many cool activities for us, and were fun to hang out with at those activities. There were a few times when I needed medical help, and they were amazingly kind and helpful each time.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I loved living in an international dorm. It was not a dorm owned by the university, but rather a private dorm for internationally minded people. That meant it was about 40% international students from all over the world, and 60% local Japanese students and workers. We all hung out in the kitchen, I learned so much Japanese from them, and made friends that I will have forever. (The only reason it is not 5 stars is that it was a little bit far form school, almost an hour on the train)

* Food:

I love Japanese food! I got to cook in the dorm, and eat out in the amazing city of Tokyo, where food ranges from cheap to amazingly expensive, but it is all delicious.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

By the time I left, my Japanese friends were telling me I had picked up Japanese mannerisms and was more Japanese then they were.... I just felt like I was able to find where I belonged in the city.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I got help as soon as I needed it when I was sick. The program got us health insurance, and helped me find doctors who spoke English when I was unsure how to explain medical complications in Japanese.

* Safety:

It's Tokyo. Its the safest city in the world. The program also has good measures in place in case of earthquakes and other natural disasters.

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? Yes

The only bad part about the semester was that it had to end.


* Money: How easily were you able to live on a student's budget?

(1 = not very easy/$200+ on food & personal expenses/week, 2.5 = $100/week, 5 = very easily/minimal cost)

Tokyo is expensive, but manageable, I spent less than I thought I would! I spent about $100 per week on food and supplies (less than my meal plan at home) and an average of $50 a week on fun stuff including trips around Japan.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? $150
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? You don't need to buy stuff, save your money for traveling and exploring!


* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
How much did the program encourage you to use the language?

0 = No encouragement, 5 = frequent encouragement to use the language

The program itself allowed people to get by without knowing any Japanese. I made an effort to speak in Japanese at every chance I got, and that is what made the difference! I feel like I can really speak now.

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? Beginner
How would you rate your language skills at the end of the program? Advanced
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? 202 (the end of two years of intro Japanese)
How many hours per day did you use the language?
Do you have any tips/advice on the best ways to practice the language for future study abroad participants? Just use the language every chance you get! Try not so stop speaking it even when you get confused. Ask what words mean and explain them to other people in foreign language, not your native one! You need to be able to think in another language to learn it, and that includes the culture as well as the semantics.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Dorm
  • Other
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • Americans
  • International Students
  • Other
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • Americans
  • International Students
About how many local friends did you make that you will likely keep in touch with?

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • Exploring Tokyo
  • The people I got to be with
  • Japan and Japanese
* What could be improved?
  • The commute from dorm to school
  • The weather (climate change made the summer weather really awful)
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? That I was going to be okay! I was so nervous about speaking Japanese, and about living in such a different place, but it was all okay.