Immersed in the Culture and Language of Japan with Added Independence February 02, 2016

By (Communication and Media Studies, Austin College) - abroad from 09/01/2015 to 12/20/2015 with

IES Abroad: Tokyo - Language & Culture

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I gained more of a sense of confidence within my learning and development of another culture and language, as well as a more global outlook. I'd like to say I'm working on my way to be a global citizen, one who sees many POV's and understands cultures of other places and people. Yes, it was worthwhile!

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 0-2 weeks

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

Not too challenging, but if you take some self-initiative, all classes are worthwhile. Resources are plenty both at the IES campus/office, and at university.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

IES staff are extremely knowledgeable and helpful- looking out for you and your interests! Both in pre-departure and once in Japan, the staff was always there for the students; from classes, to housing, to field trips.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I had an amazing host family that brought so many new and fun learning experiences while there. IES staff takes time to consider you and your preferences before putting you with a host family (if you choose to live with one- Dorms are also available).

* Food:

Mostly ate with my host family, which was great- but it may be difficult for people who aren't fans of fish. Plenty of places near the school to go out and eat as well. Could get expensive.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Thanks to IES field trips, my host family, and friends made at school (both Japanese and fellow SA students) it was easy to integrate into Japanese lifestyle and culture alongside others. IES Tokyo's E-Pal program is also great to make a friend in Japan before even leaving the States.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

Health care issues were addressed in the beginning of the program- I never felt uneasy about finding health care or asking for help from IES staff. Obtaining health insurance as a student in Japan was a bit difficult.

* Safety:

Always felt safe, no matter where I traveled. That said, safety issues (relating to all kinds- crime, natural disruptions, etc) were brought up in pre-departure and the beginning of the program. Keep a cell phone that will work in Japan with safety contact info, as well as a mail/text service to connect with fellow IES students and staff.

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? Yes

IES staff is wonderfully supportive, academics are balanced in difficulty, there are plenty of chances to explore and integrate in Japan-life on your own, while opportunities to learn with friends and fellow IES students.

Finances

* 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)

Depends what you want to do, where you want to eat, where you'd like to travel. Independent travel and food costs may get expensive.

Language

* 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

Takes some self-determination to use the language outside of school and with friends.

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? Talk with friends, host-family, and teachers in Japanese! Everyone will respect your dedication in learning the language, and even if you make mistakes, you'll be fine. Just stay determined to speak in Japanese, even if the people around you know English.

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

  • 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?
  • Independence, but guidance if needed
  • Friendships with Japanese people
  • Field Trips
* What could be improved?
  • Classes, perhaps more variety
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? How reimbursements/costs of some trips, events, textbooks would work- so to save up more money for the beginning of the program.

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.'