The Most Beautiful Experience of My Short 20 year Old Life Past Review

By (Japanese Language, Literature, Wellesley College) - abroad from 09/01/2015 to 04/30/2015 with

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

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I know this is cheesy but going to Japan has been one of the most beautiful things that has ever happened in my life. I can't say it will be the same for everyone, but for me it was worth every uphill battle and discouragement. I learned so much about myself, and I feel like I came out of it learning how to love a little better. If I could, I would do it again and not change a thing.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 1 month - 6 months

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

I had a really good time, even if it was difficult at times. I learned so much about myself and made friendships that I know will last a lifetime.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The administration was sweet but didn't know how to handle things sometimes. If I had a problem, they would try to fix it but could only do so much for me. I felt like I had to try my best and not cause any trouble for them.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I lived with a host family, and it was a very difficult experience for me. But other that the family aside, the house was nice, I had my own room and I was fed rather well. I was taken really good care of.

* Food:

Japanese food is very delicious. One of my favorite for sure and nothing has come quite close to how delicious I found Coco's Curry to be. The food is generally cheap in Japan, so I got to eat out quite a lot and try lots of different things.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I joined a local church nearby and it was a really great experience for me. I made many friends and was able to establish myself in the community and learn more about them. They are my fondest memories of Japan.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I hit my head sometime in the spring semester and went in to get a checkup. The visit was quick and cheap and I ended up being alright in the end. I also went to get an eye prescription and that too was quick and cheap. At least compared to the US. My host family told me that most students get everything checked out and fixed in Japan because it's so affordable.

* Safety:

I felt so safe in Japan. I would walk home everyday, even if it was late and didn't feel any impending danger. However do not be lulled into a false sense of security. No place is 100% free of danger and Japan is known to have occasional wacky incidents. Always be aware of your surroundings.

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)

It's not incredibly easy, but it is doable. Things are relatively more expensive in Japan so exercising self control is extremely important.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? $50/week
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Self control is key. At first you want to buy everything, but things add up quickly. Especially transportation. Just try to write up a budget and stick to it as much as you can. But don't be afraid to treat yourself. There aren't many times where you can be in Japan after all.


* 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

There was a Japanese only rule and they were pretty strict about it.

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? Intermediate
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? Japanese 202
How many hours per day did you use the language? 10+
Do you have any tips/advice on the best ways to practice the language for future study abroad participants? Talk with the natives. Don't hang out so much with the American kids from your group. I can't stress this enough. Making deep connections in Japan not only improved my Japanese but has made me more motivated to keep those relationships and study harder.

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? 10+

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • Japanese classes
  • Opportunity to Meet Students
  • Location
* What could be improved?
  • Administration
  • Elective Courses
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wish I knew how difficult it was going to be, and that not everything was going to be rosy all the time. I also wish I knew a little more about Japanese pop culture because I felt like I had a lot of outdated information.

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 Nearly Native or Trail Blazer
Craving the most authentic experience possible, perhaps you lived with a host family or really got in good with the locals. You may have felt confined by your program requirements and group excursions. Instead, you'd have preferred to plan your own trips, even skipping class to conduct your own 'field work.'