So much to do. Use your time wisely! Past Review

By (Anthropology and East Asia Studies, Brandeis University) - abroad from 08/30/2012 to 04/26/2013 with

Columbia University: Kyoto - Kyoto Consortium for Japanese Studies / KCJS

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I learned what I have to sacrifice to get what I want. As a student abroad, it was my decision that brought me there and only my effort could make it a good experience -- who in Japan was really going to take responsibility for my happiness? (no one). So I learned a lot about being humble, speaking up, creating plans, being proactive, etc. The year was definitely worthwhile, I learned a lot about myself.

Review Photos

Columbia University: Kyoto - Kyoto Consortium for Japanese Studies Photo Columbia University: Kyoto - Kyoto Consortium for Japanese Studies Photo Columbia University: Kyoto - Kyoto Consortium for Japanese Studies Photo

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.

They effectively put a large focus on good culture classes with generally good professors. The language portion could have been more intensive, though (not for everyone--for my class).

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

They gave us advisors and had somewhat-mandatory advising once. They were right down the hall from our classrooms, so we got to know the administrators fairly well. However, I felt that some things were poorly planned (trips) and the administration could have been more confident and thorough in their proceedings.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

My homestay was excellent! I thought they prepped us fairly well beforehand, and I'm glad we had an orientation before being dropped off at our new homes.

* Food:

This was all my homestay -- and it was excellent. Interest in or love of Japanese food is a very good reason to do a homestay.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

My best exposure was, of course, through my homestay. I liked the conversation-partner program, but I had some trouble with the "CIP" (community involvement project) working effectively. I could have used better advice when I was trying to join a sports team that never intended to let me join. And then, second semester's CIP program was a bit flawed, because they encouraged us to join clubs/do volunteer work that ended with the Japanese school year (in the middle of our semester).

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

My homestay mother helped me when I needed to go to the doctor, but I knew KCJS admins were willing to go with students to the doctor to help them explain things, and one of my friends took them up on it a few times.

* Safety:

The stereotype is true: Japan is incredibly safe. The people who made me feel the most uneasy were drunk elderly men.

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


* 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)

I was lucky, my host-family mother packed me lunches. We were paying a significant amount to our host-families for breakfast and dinner, though, whether we ate out or not.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? $75, not including breakfast and dinner.
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Some of my friends started packing their own lunches instead of buying from the cafeteria. Also, since nomikais are expensive, I would definitely advise finding other ways to go out, like bringing your own drinks to karaoke or going to a famous site at night.


* 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

We had to speak Japanese in the school-building, but they couldn't keep very good tabs on us. Though they did scold us, the rule was kind of treated like a joke and was broken whenever possible. It was tough to get us to speak in Japanese with each other, especially since most of us weren't incredibly confident in the language (and there was, unfortunately, some evident competition between the more confident speakers).

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? Advanced
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? Japanese 40B
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? Since it can be hard to join conversations in a foreign language, I would suggest being the conversation starter, automatically making you a key contributor. I also asked a LOT of questions. It was a balance between showing off what I knew and asking for help with what I didn't know.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • Americans
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?
  • Location (endless cultural sites!)
  • Amazing homestay
  • Community Involvement (lots of encouragement)
* What could be improved?
  • Management. Needed more authority and sometimes better planning.
  • Content Courses. The bar should've been held higher.
  • Language Pact. It was basically set up to be disrespected.
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wish I'd made more plans for keeping in touch after I left. I left without really making it clear to everyone important to me to what extent I wanted to stay in touch with them.