Amazing! It was the experience of a lifetime and I cherish every moment Past Review

By (Advertising., The University of Texas at Austin) - abroad from 05/31/2012 to 07/15/2012 with

IES Abroad: Tokyo - Tokyo Summer

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I gained many new friendships and an appreciation for a culture other than my own. I believe without a doubt that this trip was worthwhile

Review Photos

IES Abroad: Tokyo - IES Abroad in Tokyo, Summer Photo IES Abroad: Tokyo - IES Abroad in Tokyo, Summer Photo IES Abroad: Tokyo - IES Abroad in Tokyo, Summer Photo

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? None

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

The course depended heavily on individual studying outside of class, but nothing too excessive to pass.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

They were always helpful and willing to answer questions, but my particular class had two administrators who did not coordinate well with lesson plans and resulted in many misunderstandings and inconsistent grading.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

Housing was in a perfect hot spot of Tokyo, but the dorms themselves had some sanitary issues.

* Food:

The food itself was delicious. However, using some of the money we sent in to be included in program fees, meal tickets were bought for us halfway through the program. Each ticket had a predetermined monetary value, but we were only allowed to use those tickets at two cafes on site. In addition, the food itself was priced so that you had to use mulitple tickets to purchase them, yet still ended up wasting anywhere from 10 to 120 yen with each purchase. Overall, rather than meal tickets, I would have much rather preferred being given meal allowances. This way I can choose where and how much to spend. On another note, the students would benefit greatly from the program if they included cooking devices as simple as a hot plate stove, a microwave, and a refrigerator. The only onsite cooking device was a hot water heater so I could have saved more money on nights I didn't eat out if the housing had provided these. As a result, the only food I could stock up on was ramen.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I got to experience many things while in Japan and definitely felt like I absorbed much of the culture. I do have to point out that one drawback to our housing is that we weren't always in contact with other Japanese people all that often.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I only got sick once and not badly enough to warrant any healthcare other than rest.

* Safety:

Japan was incredibly safe and I never felt in danger. Obviously continue to take necessary precautions such as not walking alone by yourself at night though a dark secluded area or becoming too intoxicated in public.

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 incredibly expensive,and it's hard to remember this when you don't pull out a calculator and adjust the conversion of yen into U.S. dollars. I had to live on a very tight budget my first two weeks due to an issue with my bank and ended up eating as cheap as I could and skipping out on many social gatherings. Even so, I ended up spending a little over $200 per week. I feel that this amount could have been greatly reduced had the housing provided the cooking devices I mentioned under 'Food', but otherwise a large amount of this was unavoidable while living in Tokyo.

* Was housing included in your program cost? Yes
* Was food included in your program cost? Yes
Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? $210
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? -WALK wherever you can! On a following note: buy super cushy shoe inserts because your feet will be dying. -The supermarket is your new best friend. Always go there after 6:30pm and stock up on food! That's when they start putting out the discount stickers. -I don't care how full your suitcase is, pack an extra, small to medium sized, cheap duffel bag from Walmart with you to hold your extra souvenirs! Duffle bags in Japan, while cute, are far too expensive. I really regretted not bringing one when the cheapest one I found after searching 3 different districts was around $35 when I could have bought one the same size at walmart for only $9 -The international student ID is not worth it. I never used it once while I was abroad, so a normal student ID is enough (for discounts at karaoke :) ). -For clothes shopping, if you're going in the summer then wait until the last two weeks to do this! Japan will start having their summer sales around this time and many items are discounted. I would recommend visiting Takeshita street in Harajuku.


* 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? Intermediate
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? 3rd semester
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? Go out and don't be afraid to make a fool of yourself asking random people questions!

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Dorm
  • Host Family
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
  • International Students
  • 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?
  • The sightseeing
  • The people
  • The conenience
* What could be improved?
  • No meal tickers
  • More cooking devices
  • Coordination of classwork
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? There are so many 'what if' moments I have now that I regret not fulfilling. When your there, don't overthink things! This is the opportunity of a lifetime and you should push yourself to make every moment count.