IES Tokyo Director Verbally Harrased Me vs Japan is an amazing place to live Past Review

By (International Relations & Japanese, Austin College) - abroad from 03/25/2014 to 06/11/2014 with

IES Abroad: Tokyo - Language & Culture

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I gained the knowledge that I could have gone to Kanda and get an apartment on my own. I definitely did not get help from IES. My experience in Nagoya was much more worthwhile.

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.

I really enjoyed the courses, but I wish Kanda had a higher level of Japanese then they did. Also the IES Friday Japanese class is a complete waste of time and I never learned anything useful. Kanda is a university for Japanese students learning foreign languages; they don't really have good resources for serious learners of Japanese (nothing like Nanzan). You really have to go it alone.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Every time I went to any of the staff for help, I was turned away or told 'it couldn't be done'. (Only one person helped me the entire time, and did it without me asking.) Nearly the entire IES Tokyo description on their website is misleading or an outright lie. My biggest issue was being VERBALLY HARASSED by the site Director over nothing except that he did not like me. He ended my semester by getting me accused of breaking an IES policy, violated all of my student rights that IES guidelines provide and "pledge" to uphold, and then IES LET HIM GET AWAY WITH IT. Do not ever use IES to come to Kanda University. I repeat DO NOT USE THIS PROGRAM. If you have to, STAY AWAY FROM THE SITE DIRECTOR. He is extremely disrespectful to students and his fellow staff members. It makes for an extremely stressful, bad atmosphere. My experience with this program and IES Chicago makes me wish I had never gone in the first place (which is the opposite of what IES wants to do, which is encourage students to study abroad).

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

Do not ever live in the IES provided dorms. It is like combining all of the worst things of living with your parents and college dorm-living together: monitoring your comings & goings, refusing entry to people they don't approve of, bad food, over-pricing, etc. etc. Do not live here. I had to spend an extra amount of money to move to an apartment and IES never helped with any of it. I highly recommending staying with a host family or getting an apartment yourself. is a link to the company I used to rent an apartment while in Japan, they speak fluent English, and do all of the hard work of finding an apartment for you. It is an easy thing to do. All you need is a bank account or credit card and a guarantee (you can use an American contact).

* Food:

The dorm food is like eating in a high school cafeteria but they use Japanese recipes. Otherwise, Japanese food is excellent but expensive.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Since I moved to an apartment, I felt like a member of my neighborhood and I lived (as much as possible) like a Japanese person. (Hanging my laundry, cooking Japanese food, etc.) It was much more of an integration than in the dorms.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

IES did not assist me with anything and actually forced me to pay for health insurance I did not require. Which is why I took a star off. Due to the mandatory health insurance, you pay about 10USD a month for quality healthcare. Kanda's health center will direct you to nearby doctors that speak English (mostly) and it is pretty good. It might be awkward since it is not as private as doctor offices in America, but it is a lot cheaper. Medicine is tons cheaper and a lot weaker than American medicine. (This can be a pro or a con. For me, it was a pro because I am extremely sensitive to pharmaceutical drugs.)

* Safety:

The only issue you might run into is groping on the train. Otherwise, I never felt like I was in danger. Even when I was walking by myself at night. If you don't go looking for trouble, you won't find it in Japan. IES gives you a really useless safety workshop that tells you how to properly cross the street while in a country that drives on the opposite side of the road.

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)

Due to IES, I had to spend extra money on an apartment and food. (The dorms do not accommodate dietary restrictions) Japan is just expensive to begin with, so with the extra expenses I was easily spending over $100 per week.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? 100-200USD
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? BUDGET. Plan ahead!!


* 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? Advanced
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? Nanzan University's Level 500
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? Join a club. Insist on only using Japanese with the other IES people. Schedule a Japanese speaking hour with your epal. Watch Japanese TV (it seriously helps!) Go to karaoke. Go by yourself to the ward office if you feel advanced enough.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Dorm
  • Apartment
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • 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?
  • Kanda University
  • Japan
* What could be improved?
  • Different program
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? How awful IES Tokyo is, lighter packing, and how to properly budget my money.

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!