Explore Japan, Live in Tokyo! Past Review

By (Japanese Language, Brandeis University) - abroad from 05/30/2015 to 07/11/2015 with

IES Abroad: Tokyo - Tokyo Summer

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I learned a massive amount about what it's like to live and grow up in another culture. It was absolutely worth it, Japan is a great country to study abroad in because it is so safe and unique. There are so many cool things there, I only wish I had time to see them all!

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.

Learning the material was hard, but I found that enough of what I learned I did not use during my everyday travels in Japan. While the program made sense academically, it would have been nice to see some more supplemental stuff that I could use in my everyday interactions with Japanese people that I saw.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

The common rooms were not separated enough from the living rooms, so I could hear everything being said in the common room from my room. This made it very hard to get to bed at a reasonable hour because there is almost always somebody in the lounge.

* 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:

Japan is probably safer than where you live. Virtually nobody owns a gun in Japan, not even the police. In certain areas at night you have to watch your drink but that is about it.

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)

Transportation on the trains seems cheap at first but it adds up. Food is very cheap if you want it to be (you can get a 3 dollar dinner very easily at a beef bowl restaurant). Of course it's easy to overspend also, you just have to know your own situation and plan accordingly.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? 80-120
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? You are going to want to splurge. Everyone has to bring back a few souvenirs and things. One strategy I employed was to earmark money I got to spend on souvenirs each week. Definitely set a budget on that because you will be tempted to bring back everything. Also, the little things add up. What really killed me sometimes was buying small snacks throughout the day. They add up fast, its actually smarter to pay more for a larger meal and then not have a snack.


* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
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? Beginner
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? 2 semesters worth of credits
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? Force yourself to use the language even when you don't have to. Practice and immersion are the best ways to learn.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Dorm
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
* 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?
  • Freedom
  • Exploring
  • Homestay Weekend
* What could be improved?
  • Enforced Quiet Hours
  • Shorter orientation sessions
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Don't pack too formally (in terms of dress). Many people emphasize how people dress differently, but it's really not that big of a deal, especially for young people in Tokyo. Shorts and a t shirt everyday are completely fine. Athletic shorts might get you a few odd looks but that is about it (I can only speak to the male experience).

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.'