A Worthwhile Experience May 30, 2016

By (Political Science & Japanese, Wellesley College) - abroad from 01/12/2015 to 04/26/2016 with

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

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I learned way more than language. Advancing my Japanese was the main reason for going abroad but it became secondary to the many other discoveries I made in Japan. For one, I had the privilege of interacting with many genuinely kind and interesting people who taught me so much about life through their diverse backgrounds. My language skills improved along with my people skills, as community involvement was required by KCJS.

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.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

* Food:

I cooked for myself mostly and ordered out. Rarely dined at school.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

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

While I would disagree with myself just a few months ago, I think that the program location of Kyoto is crucial to my study abroad experience. Prior to the program I feared Kyoto to be an isolated suburban area where I won't have much to do beyond commuting to school. I was very wrong about those assumptions, as the city is beautiful proof of Japan's interesting mix of modern and traditional culture. I concentrated on my studies as the lively part of the city was located a small distance away from my apartment. I had the choice of participating or retreating back to quietness; it was the perfect setting for studying abroad. Additionally, KCJS staff are also very helpful and gives student space to live as college-aged, independent adults.

Finances

* 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)

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? $150-$200
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Budget and track each time that you spend money.

Language

* 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? Fourth 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? Don't let shame or feeling embarrassed stop you from learning and practicing!

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Apartment
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • N/A
* 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?
  • Emergency support
  • Gives adequate space to students
  • Staff are very kind
* What could be improved?
  • Teaching methods can be more flexible to suit non-Japanese students
  • Orientation should be longer so students can adjust to the time difference
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wish I was aware of that the short orientation period - though it was written on the calendar, I didn't think jetlag would be a big problem. However, I was unable to sleep until late most nights and woke up very early and was super tired by the afternoon. I would've adjusted my sleeping schedule while in the states prior, if I had known that the placement exam was two days after arrival.

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.'