Fun and Exciting Year in Japan Past Review

By (TESL, Oklahoma State University - Stillwater) for

Gunma Prefectual Women's University: Tamamura - Direct Enrollment & Exchange

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
Many familiar faces say "welcome back!" but I don't feel like I came back at the place I left last August; new people to meet, new classes to take/teach, but most importantly, I have new ideas of what I need to do now in order to achieve my goals in life.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 6 months+

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

I took four classes total. The classes met once a week for 90 minutes. All the classes were taught in English. Three classes were taught by native English speakers, and one was taught by a Japanese teacher. All the instructors were great. I liked the fact that all of them had graduated from universities in English speaking countries.I was the only student in one of the classes, so my professor had her class in her office. It was really cool. Plus, her academic interest was in sync with mine, so we had great discussion all the time. I had a little trouble being silent in another class. It was a discussion-based class taught by an American instructor. However, everyone besides I was Japanese who had mostly teacher-centered classrooms all of their lives. I respected my peers and tried to be silent during class, but then no one spoke in class and the teacher did not like that. Compared to OSU classes, the workload was not heavy at all. In fact, I was surprised when I heard one graduate student saying she is struggling to write a five page paper.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The host university did not have an international office. There was a institution for students who are going to study abroad from Japan, but not for the in-coming international students. We were taken care by an administrative office staff who did not have any international experience or foreign language competence. I heard that it was her third year helping the international students. The staff was very nice. Please don't get me wrong. I think the university did not know well how to take care of international students, since the number of international students are usually just five out of 800 Japanese students. Therefore, the international students seemed confused and stressed at the beginning when they arrive at the university. But by the time we mark our 2 months anniversary, we began to find our way on our own.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

The apartment was small, but big enough for a college student whose primary focus should be on studying. One thing that I would wish for improvement is to have a bigger kitchen. The apartment was for the students at the host university. The international students were all on the same floor (1st floor). The host university prepared living items for the international students (they even had bikes for us!). The lanlords (husband and wife) were very generous. They hosted two welcom parties; one only for the international students and another one for the whole residents. The landlords were also very careful about their residents' safety, since there were only female residents. The gate to go into the apartment closed at 10:00pm every night, there was a security camera on 24/7, and each room had a intercom with a camera so that we could look at who is at the door before we open it.

* Food:

Thanks to green tea, I did not get sick for a year! That's a miracle!

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Fmmm, let me see... I got to go on two field trips hosted by the administrative office. We got to go to Tokyo and Ikaho (famous hot spring spot in Gunma). There was a school festival in November and all the international students got to introduce their home country in various ways. I and another exchange student from America dressed up like cowgirls. I was invited to be a keynote speaker for a speech contest for high school students. I joined the hula dance and yoga club on campus that met once a week for two hours. The university asked me to be a narrator for a promotion DVD for a local company. I presented my research at a conference. Since the international students lived at the same apartment, I got to learn about Korean and Chinese cultures while living in Japan. Most importantly I learned so many things by teaching six English classes toatal.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

As mentioned above

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)


If applicable, to what degree did your living situation aid your language acquisition?

Direct Enrollment/Exchange

* Did you study abroad through an exchange program or did you directly enroll in the foreign university? Exchange

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Apartment
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • N/A

A Look Back

* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? You MUST study Japanese language and culture in advace. It will help you a lot in the future.