Leaps and Bounds Past Review

By (Interdisciplinary Studies, University of Redlands) - abroad from 08/30/2014 to 05/18/2015 with

IES Abroad: Nagoya Direct Enrollment - Nanzan University

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I don't think I could have picked a better program for my needs. Apart from extensive improvement in my language skills, I gained greater insight into the daily life and culture of Japan. I found it easier to interact with local residents the more my language skills improved, and my confidence improved greatly. I gained many friends from, not just Japan, but around the world, because of this experience, and I will never forget it.

Review Photos

IES Abroad: Nagoya - Nanzan University Photo

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.

If you're looking for a program to bring your language skills to the next level in a short amount of time, this is it. I was enrolled in the 400 and 500 level Japanese courses, and each semester significantly improved every aspect of my language ability by solidifying concepts I'd already learned, and concretely laying out new ones. The courses outside the language department were designed to be manageable and fit within the demands of a language-intensive course while still offering students new insight into more complex aspects of Japan.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Masae and Satoshi, our coordinators, were absolutely fantastic. They were always there when we needed help or advice, and they brought a bright and lively dimension to all our travel experiences. Any questions we had, they were ready and willing to answer. I could ask for better administration.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

The dormitory offered up a unique blend of college life and closeness with local culture by housing us with Nanzan's Japanese students. We were quick to build a sense of community, and there was an overall atmosphere of openess and friendship. Though at times it was hard not to feel pressure to engage in events that conflicted with our busy schedules, the whole experience was fun and unforgettable.

* Food:

I have gluten intolerance, which means I cannot eat soy sauce. This was difficult to manage at first, but after some time getting used to the super market and environment, I found it easier to cook for myself and learn to prepare local cuisine in a gluten-free manner. Our coordinators were also superb at making sure my dietary needs were met on field-trips, and I did have to sacrifice experiencing unique dishes for my dietary restrictions.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

When you get over the initial shyness and start using your Japanese skills, the whole community begins to open up to you. One of the most gratifying experiences is seeing a shopkeepers expression light up when you start speaking to them in Japanese. Aichi Prefecture also has some of the kindest people I've ever met in Japan, and has proven itself to be one of the most welcoming environments I've ever experienced

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I had a couple health issues during my time abroad. Being a diabetic, I am more susceptible to viruses and infections, and I did end up coming down with the flu during the winter. There are several English speaking doctors at the hospital, and the national health insurance covers a lot of your expenses. The only problems I had were trying to accommodate the University's strict attendance policy with the unique complications that come with my condition. It was somewhat difficult to communicate how it often takes longer for me to heal from a sickness than the average person. However, in spite of this, I found my professors extremely understanding, and was able to set my mind at ease.

* Safety:

I could go outside at 2:00AM and not feel as vulnerable as I would walking around downtown Philadelphia at 10:00PM. Of course, common sense is still key -know your train schedules, take a friend with you if you do have to be out late, watch out for bicycles, etc. Aichi Prefecture does also have one of the highest rates of traffic accidents, but as long as you obey all traffic signals there should be no problem.

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)

The only reason I ran into budgeting problems was usually because of a health reason. I tended to have to buy more pricey food because of my dietary restrictions, but I watched my roommates manage just fine on their own budget. Most necessities are very affordable, and many non-necessities are easy to find for decent prices. Public transit is also very cheap.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? At maximum, I spent $60-$70 on food, and anywhere between $5 and $30 on non-necessities.
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Know that imported brands (especially food) are going to be priced up. Try to open your mind to eating/cooking with local foods because they will be cheaper and easier to find. Explore shopping areas a few times before spending money anywhere -it will help curb impulse buys. Beware the Gatcha machines, they will take your change away sooner than you realize. On the subject of change, never be afraid to pay exact. Finally, get the Manaca transport card. You can refill it or get one that covers a certain transport area, and it's far more convenient than always buying tickets.


* 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

Nanzan actually has an area called the Japan Plaza where nothing other than Japanese may be spoken. You quickly become able to flip between your native language and Japanese within in the first couple of months.

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? 300
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 be afraid to use "Japanglish" with friends. Blending your native tongue and Japanese helps you start thinking in both languages, which in turn helps with general communication. Don't fight or disregard your professors' corrections or input -99.9% of the time, they are right and you are wrong. Don't let impatience get to you in class, or feel prompted to answer for another student, as it will hinder their progress and offer little to improve your own. Most of all, just look for fun ways to progress outside of the classroom: read manga, watch TV, go to karaoke, etc.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Dorm
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • Americans
  • International Students
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • 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?
  • The environment/support system
  • Unique experiences while traveling
  • Daily life experiences
* What could be improved?
  • Health support system
  • Better accommodation of student schedules during dorm event planning
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I really don't have an answer for this question, partly because I had already studied in Japan once before. I suppose I wish I had been a little better prepared to manage my dietary needs. I probably would have brought some supplies from home, for example.

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!