Kyoto is great, Japanese is great, English is up for debate September 04, 2019

By (Brandeis University) - abroad from 01/07/2019 to 04/25/2019 with

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

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I really improved my general language skills and it was definitely worthwhile. I'm actually considering moving to Kyoto after graduation because I love the city and my homestay was so great. I wouldn't do the program again because the academic expectations for things other than language were too high, but I will definitely head back to the country.

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.

I enjoyed the Japanese program but the culture courses taught in English were more demanding than I would've liked.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I was in a homestay and absolutely loved it!

* Food:

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I had a stiff neck at one point and it took me less than an hour to get checked in with a doctor and get an x-ray that cost me about $10 USD. Standard things like painkillers were easily available.

* Safety:

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

I absolutely adore Kyoto and the Japanese language program at KCJS. However, the standards set forth by Columbia University (the program provider) for the amount of English-taught culture courses was a bit outrageous. I personally found it very hard to balance Columbia's expectations with spending time actually exploring and getting used to Japan.


* 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? About $30 USD
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Make sure you have a bank that you can withdraw from any ATM internationally. Most places will only take cash.


* 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? 7th semester Japanese
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? Watch TV. Even if it's in the background, the general image with spoken words helps you learn subconsciously and you start to notice things you learned in class being used in everyday settings.

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

  • 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?
  • Homestay
  • Field trips
  • Food
* What could be improved?
  • Academic expectations
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Be prepared to buy everyone you know souvenirs. Japanese people expect it of you and will ask what you have gotten as gifts for your family.

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.'