Surprising and Challenging Past Review

By (Political Science, Macalester College) - abroad from 08/31/2014 to 12/18/2014 with

IES Abroad: Nagoya Direct Enrollment - Nanzan University

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I learned more of the Japanese culture by being immersed in it and was not as in love with it as I had imagined. It is hard to really join Japanese society because it is famous for being so closed off and resistant to change or influence. This is both good and bad as a foreigner because you get the sense that even those who move to Japan permanently may never feel completely accepted or acclimated. I have always been very much interested in Japanese culture as it is unique, preserved and still very much a maverick in many ways. This experience was definitely worthwhile and was just the first of hopefully many times I can visit this intriguing country.

Review Photos

IES Abroad: Nagoya - Nanzan University Photo IES Abroad: Nagoya - Nanzan University Photo IES Abroad: Nagoya - Nanzan University Photo

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 2 weeks - 1 month

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

The language program was rigorous but manageable.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I did a homestay which I think are rather hit or miss depending on one's own expectations and background. My host family was welcoming and kind and caring. Relative to other's, we didn't spend much time together as my parents and siblings were older and busy. Then again, my family was a safe and happy place to return to.

* Food:

Japanese food is amazing and the quality is so consistent. The only drawbacks is if you want to eat non-Japanese food, one must look for it.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?


* Safety:

Japan feels safe. I walked around various parts of the area late at night and while I remained on guard, there was nothing to make me feel scared. The subway system is mostly ok considering how big of a city Nagoya is and as long as you are aware of your surroundings, it's perfectly safe.

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 what you make it. My host family took care of my breakfasts and most of my dinners. Even with multiple visits to the conbini, it was very easy for me to avoid overspending. Eating out in Japan can be very cheap and finding things to do is also easy.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? 3500-4000 yen (350yen for school lunch+120yen drinks/day)+ weekends
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Beware of the vending machines and buy an unlimited commuter pass. If you don't need the JR trains, it is worth your money to buy a Manaca card that will give you unlimited city bus and subway usage! My friends who didn't do this had to pay for ANY station that was out of their daily commute to school and weren't aware of the other option. IES reimburses you for


* 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

Language classes were conducted in Japanese and there were multiple opportunities to make friends with Japanese students who are very interested in internationalism and English.

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? First 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? Study vocabulary on topics that you are interested in. Grammar is so useful to learn in classroom settings, but vocabulary is how to really engage with Japanese citizens and have more thoughtful conversations.

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?
  • CJS teachers and friends
  • Nagoya's public transportation
  • Nagoya's location relative (close to Kyoto, Tokyo)
* What could be improved?
  • Nanzan's elective courses
  • More consistent contact between IES staff and students
  • Closer commutes for host families to campus
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Nothing. I think the difference between IES and CJS could be defined a little better and more specifically in the predepature 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 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!