Serious STUDY Abroad Past Review

By (East Asian Studies., Brandeis University) - abroad from 09/04/2013 to 12/22/2013 with

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

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
KCJS is definitely a worthwhile program. If you are looking to increase your Japanese language ability then this is the way to go.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? None

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

This program is no joke. There is a heavy focus on academics but the teachers and staff are all incredibly helpful in getting you through it all.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The administration did well to make the program enjoyable for everyone by listening to and addressing students' concerns and issues.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I participated in a home-stay through KCJS, which was definitely one of the highlights of my semester abroad. Its great to experience life in a Japanese family and even better to have a caring family as a sturdy support system while in a new country.

* Food:

I loved all of it. Having a guaranteed delicious breakfast and dinner with my home-stay family was fantastic. And the food at the Doshisha dining hall always tasted great and was incredibly affordable. There are countless restaurants in Kyoto and the selection is vast. However, vegetarians be warned, the Japanese like their meat and fish.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

KCJS puts forth some effort to integrate you into Japanese society on campus and in Kyoto. But being on a different schedule than the rest of Doshisha and stuck in the international building for classes made me feel secluded and separated. The amount of class and homework also makes it difficult to really immerse yourself in the culture.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

The KCJS staff makes sure everyone has health insurance and a card to prove that. I did not have to use mine, but I heard from a fellow student that a visit to the dentist to replace a filling cost less than $15.

* Safety:

Get ready for lots of bicycles riding around you.

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)

KCJS provides students with money for lunch and living in a home-stay ensures a breakfast and dinner each day. Eating out is not very expensive either and generally cheaper than in the US.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? $40-50
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Consider your luggage space and wallet before spending while shopping.


* 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? Advanced
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? Third year 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? Talk to Japanese people! Try to get away from staying exclusively with KCJS students and engage in conversation with native speakers.

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
  • 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?
  • Japanese Language Class
  • Home-stay
  • Food
* What could be improved?
  • Elective Workload
  • Integration into local culture/campus
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? How incredibly stressful it is to handle a full course-load, including two hours of Japanese class five days a week with a few hours of homework every night, as well as living with a new family and in a new country.

Reasons For Studying Abroad

To help future students find programs attended by like-minded individuals, please choose the profile that most closely represents you.
The Academic or Linguist
You went abroad with specific academic goals in mind; the program credentials and rigor of your coursework abroad were very important to you. You had a great time abroad, but never lost sight of your studies and (if applicable) were diligent with your foreign language study. Good for you!