Cultural Immersion in Tokyo Past Review

By (Chinese & Japanese, Austin College) - abroad from 03/25/2014 to 07/13/2014 with

IES Abroad: Tokyo - Language & Culture

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I learned a lot more about Japanese culture, gained more confidence, some Japanese friends, and a Japanese family. It was definitely worthwhile, and it assured me that I want to live in Japan in the future.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 1 month - 6 months

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

I was in the Culture and Society program, and it's not terribly rigorous, which is nice because you can focus on building relationships. Each culture class is three hours long, which can be very draining and takes some getting used to.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The staff was extremely helpful with anything I needed, and answered a lot of my questions about Japanese culture.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I stayed with a host family, which was amazing. This was my favorite part of my experience, by far. My host family spoke little to no English, so I relied mostly on my Japanese, but I could speak a little English when needed.

* Food:

With a host family, the host family is supposed to provide two meals on weekdays, and no meals on weekends. My host family provided almost all my meals, except lunch, because I was usually out, which was very generous of them. Learn food vocabulary before you go so you can try all sorts of different food, and understand the things you cannot eat. Food is a bit expensive, but I think prices are about the same in America, so budget for that.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Living with a host family gives you a great perspective into the local culture, and prevents you for slipping back into your own culture when you're not at school or out and about. I got more insight into Japanese culture from my host family than in any culture course I have ever taken.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I didn't have any health problems, but some students did, and they were taken care of well.

* Safety:

Japan is very safe, and as long as you use common sense, you'll be safe. There are perverts on the trains that will target foreigners, so make sure to be extra alert on the train.

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)

Tokyo is an expensive city, and it's easy to get caught up in things and spend more than you have. Pick and choose what you spend on carefully. You also need to set aside money for presents, since giving presents is an important part of Japanese culture.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? $250
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? You can get a part time job while there, but it's not guaranteed, so save up before you come.


* 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? Intermediate
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? JAPN 202
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? Living with a host family and making Japanese friends, who want to speak Japanese with you (because not all of them want to, some prefer English) makes you use Japanese much more than you would otherwise.

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?
  • Host family
  • Field Placement Program
  • Kanda University classes
* What could be improved?
  • Japanese language classes
  • Guest lectures
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I think I knew everything I needed to know for this program before I went. Just relax, go with the flow, and keep an open mind. It won't all be great, but you can make it great in spite of the inevitable hardships.

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.'