Exploring Tokyo Through IES Past Review

By (Pennsylvania State University - University Park) - abroad from 09/02/2015 to 12/21/2014 with

IES Abroad: Tokyo - Language & Culture

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
Overall, I had a very rewarding experience during my time with IES. What was great to me about IES was the fact that teachers wanted to make sure you learned while also giving you the chance to explore Japan and your surroundings. Although this is a language intensive program, you aren't pushed to the point of being stressed. You will learn more of the language, but I don't think I was challenged enough academically. What was helpful in learning more Japanese was being surrounded so much by the language and by hanging out with my e-pal. IES pairs each abroad student up with an "e-pal", which is a Japanese student attending the university who you can get to know before getting to campus. This was super beneficial for many of the abroad students because they had the opportunity to befriend and hang out with a Japanese student to learn more about Japan's culture. We could practice our speaking skills with them and jump into the social scene with more ease. IES was also extremely involved with the students in providing constant information about events going on around Tokyo. We got to go on two long field trips to the countryside (3-5 days each) and also went on a lot of other student council-run trips around the city. IES Tokyo definitely wants their students to be able to get the most out of their time in Japan. It is a great program for students looking to get immersed into the culture while also practicing their Japanese skills.

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.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

* Food:

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

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)

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? Around $50
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Try to only buy things for a purpose- don't just buy something because you think it's cool. Think of a person you can give the gift to or imagine how you'll use it back home. Also try to eat at home/in the dorm as much as you can during the weekdays.


* 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? Elementary, middle, and high school Japanese. Took one Japanese course in college.
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? You're paired with an "e-pal", which is a Japanese student attending the university who you can get to know before getting to campus. Befriend them and practice the language with them and their friends. Get involved in clubs on campus or get a job. These are in my opinion your best bets for being faced with the need to speak the language.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Dorm
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • Americans
  • International Students
* 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?
  • Traveling
  • E-pal system
  • Social life
* What could be improved?
  • More challenging academics
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Traveling costs add up. The Japanese rail system is expensive, especially if you're going into the city on a regular basis.

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 Networker
An active student leader, it was important for you to network abroad as well. Once overseas, you sought out student clubs, volunteered with local organizations, or attended community events. You encouraged your friends join you, and often considered how you could reflect your international experiences in a resume.