My Semester in Tokyo Past Review

By (Marketing, University of Pittsburgh - Pittsburgh) - 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 learned a lot about how to adapt to the situation. I learned a lot about learning how to live by the standards of another culture, and through that I feel that I am able to view my own culture with a more knowledgeable eye.

Review Photos

IES Abroad: Tokyo - Language & Culture Photo

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 had hoped for more classes taught in Japanese.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The administration at IES Abroad Tokyo is OUTSTANDING. They are a truly caring, hardworking group of people who will do anything humanly possible to make your time abroad one of the best experiences of your life.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

My host family was wonderful. They were one of the best parts of my semester abroad and I'm eternally grateful to them for providing such a fantastic place to live for 4 months.

* Food:

I love Japanese food! American food hasn't been the same since coming back, and now I eat Japanese food everyday in America.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

It was hard to get locally involved, especially since most students lived in all different towns across one geographic area. I wish I'd pushed myself to meet more locals.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I had to go to a clinic for a minor injury, and the Japanese health care system was, in my experience, very cleanly, efficient, and knowledgeable.

* Safety:

Japan is extremely safe; even walking around the most urban areas of Tokyo at night I never felt any danger. Japan is known for its safety and I completely agree.

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

The local staff was fantastic, and the local university was very accommodating to international students. It was a very great place to live.


* 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)

Japan is a fairly expensive country, although if you're careful and limit excursions you'll be fine. But it is worth it to spend a few extra hundred dollars and be more adventurous.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? $150
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Specifically for the IES Tokyo program, the school cafeteria was very cheap, so that's a good way to save lunch money.


* 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

Most classes are taught in English.

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? Japanese level 3 (3 years of study) at the college level
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? Make as many friends with local students as you can. I'd have lunch with a different Japanese friend every day, and that way I was improving my speaking skills but it didn't feel like studying.

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?
  • My host family
  • The local IES staff
  • The program overnight field trips
* What could be improved?
  • Amount of classes in English
  • More local community events
  • Japanese class level intensity (to become more intensive)
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? That the amount of improvement I make in my Japanese language depends on me and solely me. It doesn't matter how many classes you take or friends you make, you have to be the one to drive your own progress.

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.'