I can't believe I just ate that... Past Review

By (International Relations and political science, Austin College) - abroad from 08/30/2011 to 08/01/2012 with

IES Abroad: Tokyo - Language & Culture

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
Perspective. Ultimately yes, but I had to work hard to make it that way...

Review Photos

IES Abroad: Tokyo  - IES Abroad in Tokyo Photo IES Abroad: Tokyo  - IES Abroad in Tokyo Photo IES Abroad: Tokyo  - IES Abroad in Tokyo Photo

Personal Information

If you took classes at multiple universities, list those universities here: Meikai University Kanda University of International Studies
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.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

Host families were not always available, and those that were often had lengthy commutes to and from campus. However the biggest issue was that IES could not provide any housing assistance over academic breaks, leaving myself and several other students without a place to stay and on our own in Tokyo.

* Food:

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Japanese students are assigned to help you integrate into the local culture, but you may find yourself spending uncomfortable amounts of time speaking English with your American peers for lack of Japanese companionship.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

Health issues were addressed promptly and reimbursements were available for medical costs.

* Safety:

Almost too safe...

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


* 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)

Tokyo is extremely expensive, and many consumables were outrageous. If you are living on your own during the breaks expect to spend $200-300 per week on food and trains.

* Was housing included in your program cost? Yes
* Was food included in your program cost? No


* 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? Beginner
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? Japanese 102
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? Just talk with people. Anyway you can. Get drunk with friends... whatever! Find a hobby, join a club. Talk as much as you want... as often as you can, and listen as well. You didn't travel around the world to sit in a classroom and study like you did at your home university, you did it to experience the culture and to gain workable knowledge of the language. Do it!

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
  • Apartment
  • Hostel
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
  • Other
* 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?
  • The school trips
  • The chance to interact with local Japanese students
  • The quality of the staff and academic/cultural resources available
* What could be improved?
  • The available classes could definitely do with an upgrade!
  • The chance to study Japanese with a professor outside the classroom, or pursue self directed study projects
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? How to speak Japanese! It may seem like I'm being glib, but having a working knowledge of the local language is indispensable for any study abroad experience!