All that glitters is not gold Past Review

By (PSYCHOLOGY., Austin College) - abroad from 03/25/2014 to 07/11/2014 with

IES Abroad: Tokyo - Language & Culture

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
Although I cannot properly articulate all the lessons I've learned from studying abroad,I believe that everyone should have the opportunity to study abroad. There are many things you learn about yourself, your relation to other people, and your small role in the world when you study abroad-- and it makes all the difference.

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.

Classes are not particularly demanding, but while you are wrapped up in exploring and experiencing the area, assignments/projects can come back to haunt you if you are not careful.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

IES Coordinators are usually, if not always, willing to talk with and/or assist students with any type of problem (non-academic/academic)

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I unfortunately had a bad experience with my home-stay because I was a guinea pig student at a time when they were definitely not ready to host anybody. So, just be weary, bad home-stays do exist and it's your choice whether or not you think it is worth sticking it out or not.

* Food:

Food is relatively cheap for very good quality. Convenience stores are everyone's best friend.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I never had to go the hospital, but other students in the program were taken care of very well.

* Safety:

At no point in time did I ever feel threatened in Japan.

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)

Especially during the first weeks of the program, you will most likely spend a lot more money than you are used to. You can easily drop $20-30 USD just at a single izakaya (bar) for nomihoudai (all you can drink for ~2 hrs), but as long as you don't do this every week you should be fine. Just be smart with your money and plan accordingly for trips.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? $80-120USD
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? You will spend most of your money on 1. food&drinks and 2. travel expenses (train).


* 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

IES classes were all taught in English and if you do not take any of the local university's classes, you never get the chance to actually learn alongside Japanese students. aka. you never really use Japanese.

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
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 persist and insist on using Japanese when you are with your Japanese friends/host-family/strangers/ect., because those who know English will mainly use English with you.

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
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 students (it was an amazing group of students)
  • IES sponsored trips
* What could be improved?
  • classes (3hrs is a bit too long, attention wavers)
  • exploration time ( especially during field trips)
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wish I had brought several disposable cameras and a journal to document my daily life in Japan. I also wished that I had packed my suitcases lighter :]

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.'