The Most Difficult and Most Rewarding Thing Past Review

By (Washington State University) - abroad from 01/03/2016 to 05/23/2016 with

IES Abroad: Nagoya Direct Enrollment - Nanzan University

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
When you define yourself by your skilled communication and articulacy, and are subsequently dropped in a country where you are illiterate, you have to find new ways to define yourself. I did, and it was the most insightful discovery I made. I also gained a ton of confidence speaking a foreign language, and a necessary foundation for continuing my language study after graduation.

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.

Classes were very intense and very difficult. For the less-skilled students, there were less resources, and that made it difficult to keep up at times.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Very organized, very well communicated. Fantastic.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

My host family was amazing. That said, I had some friends which had negative experiences with their host families and had to be moved. However, 90% of students living with host families had a great time!

* Food:

I didn't like fish or any seafood before coming to Japan, but eating Japanese cuisine for days on end convinced me otherwise...

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Everyone is accepting, but not necessarily inclusive. Everyone assumed you can't speak Japanese. They are very kind, that said.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

My healthcare was easily accessible and my program helped me find an appropriate healthcare provider, including a translator. It was discreet and empathetic, and well done.

* Safety:

No problems with crime or safety. Just none.

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

I had one hell of a struggle when I was over there. It was easily the most difficult thing I've done. That said, the program was exactly the challenge I needed, and I was supported when I needed support.


* 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)

3 stars because I was lucky to have recieved very generous scholarships, so I don't have a very good understanding of what a 'student budget' looks like.

Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Put 1000 aside for your last month, at least. That way if you spend more than you expect, which you will, you're still in a good spot.


* 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

'Encouragement' was more like 'requirement.' English may be written everywhere, but almost no one will speak it. You /must/ be prepared to make mistakes while speaking.

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 Level class.
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? Travel by yourself. You can, in Japan, quite safely. That's the only way I got over my fear of speaking the language. If you travel together, travel with someone who is at a similar ability level as yourself. Otherwise your friend will do all the speaking, and you won't get over your fear.

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
  • 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?
  • Class intensity
  • Cuisine
  • Program trips
* What could be improved?
  • Clearer communication about student ability to host families
  • Better support for lower-ability students
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? That I would make it through my study abroad just fine, and that it would be the most rewarding experience of my life.

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.'