Tokyo is great, Sophia not so much Past Review

By (Brandeis University) - abroad from 03/29/2019 to 08/03/2019 with

CIEE: Tokyo - Arts and Sciences

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I learned how to be more independent, and also more about myself. It was definitely worthwhile! I learned about how I feel more comfortable in large cities, and how I don't need many friends, just a few I really click with. I think I might've noticed this before the program, but the program really solidify this information so that I can be more conscious of how I act in the future in a new environment.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 6 months+

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

Classes at Sophia University were honestly very hit or miss. Professors were either not very accommodating, nor good at teaching, or very good at what they were doing.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The program administration was very all over the place, especially after Aya left. Reimbursements were coming in late/information was all over the place/we got information late/information was incorrect.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

While it was far from the school, it was still close to Ikebukuro and Shinjuku and Shibuya, so it was really easy to get to places. It was a fairly nice dorm, except that wifi was unreliable. Other than that, there was a nice community, and I enjoyed staying there for the most part.

* Food:

Food is cheaper than in America for the most part, and much more accessible. I got sick of the food soon after getting there, but it was still generally pretty good.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

It was really hard to feel integrated because Japanese people tend to not open up to other people. Even after joining a club, I still didn't feel especially comfortable with them, so I didn't go anymore.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

Health issues were easily addressed, and I felt safe knowing that I had coverage thanks to the national health insurance

* Safety:

Very safe, no real concerns. Groping on the trains is real, however, and I would advice women to stay safe.

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? No

I really learned to love Tokyo, so I would definitely come back to Tokyo. But, if I were able to go to a different school in Tokyo, I would definitely do that. The education at Sophia was definitely not up to par to what I was expecting, so I would choose another school


* 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)

Food is definitely cheaper than in the US, just it depends on where you go and what you buy. Sometimes cooking is more expensive and time consuming, so it's all up to the individual.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? from $100-150 usually
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? cook Japanese/more asian food if you cook. a lot of things in the grocery stores will be cheaper that way. Also, don't be afraid to go to chains! They are cheap and still pretty good.


* 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

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? Intermediate
How would you rate your language skills at the end of the program? Intermediate
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? JAPN 105A
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? Join a circle early and try to see if you can find friends! I was unlucky in that regard, but some people in the program were able to make Japanese friends, so it all depends on who you meet.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Dorm
* 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?
  • Tokyo
  • meeting new people/friends
  • the excursions
* What could be improved?
  • efficiency/transparency
  • consistency with information
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? that I could've applied directly to Sophia/a university in Tokyo and would've been fine without the help of CIEE