An Amazing Experience Past Review

By (Florida Gulf Coast University) - abroad from 06/23/2016 to 07/09/2016 with

IES Abroad: Tokyo - Tokyo Summer

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
A new cultural mindset, a great deal of first-hand experience with Japanese language and culture, and so many new friends that I am still in touch with. It was absolutely worthwhile.

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.

Class in the morning 5 days a week with some homework and studying, but it really wasn't too intense. You will have plenty of free time to explore, and grading was lenient for my class.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Excellent, will help you however they can.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

The weakest area of the program, as the rooms are VERY small with a shared hall bath. But the overall setup is nice, you are right by your classes and a convenience store, as well as other facilities. But I was out exploring and having fun so much that this wasn't really a big issue.

* Food:

No kitchen access, but this wasn't a problem to me. Provided that you budget for it, every day is an opportunity to go out and try new foods. But of course if money is tight you can always go by the convenience store on-site, or the nearby 7-11. These aren't like your typical American convenience stores, they are very nice and the meals are actually very tasty.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Amazing. Right in the heart of Tokyo. You can meet with a lot of locals through the E-Pal program that IES does, as well as just meeting people while exploring the city if you're bold enough. There is so much to do, and you can pick up on the language faster than you'd think.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

Never needed to use it, but from some other students I know who did, there weren't any issues. The staff is well-prepared to accommodate you, and direct you to a clinic or hospital if necessary.

* Safety:

It's Japan, in my opinion the safest country in the world. Obviously use common sense, don't walk in unfamiliar places at night by yourself, go out with people you trust, etc. The staff has an emergency contact system in place.

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

This was overall an absolutely amazing experience. If you're looking to go to Japan over summer, this program is your best bet. It's shorter than most programs, so make the most of every day you have. I made so many new friends through this program, with both fellow students in the program and locals. I loved every day in Tokyo, and I know that I will definitely be going back to Japan soon. Don't be afraid to get out of your comfort zone and meet new people. Experience as much as possible, but don't expect to be able to do everything. Also, the field trips and homestay are included in the program costs, DO THEM, they were one of the best parts of the program.


* 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)

It's expensive, but worth every cent for the location and experience. If you budget for it and keep track of your spending, you should be okay. Keep cash on hand at all times, as Japan is a very cash-based society, and a lot of stores won't take your card. 7-11 ATMs take foreign cards and will let you withdraw for free, but check with your home bank/credit union on their fees.

Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Budget! Many students in the program with me didn't do this, and were barely getting by before the program ended.


* 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

You will find some English speakers in Tokyo, but few will be fluent. The environment really encourages you to speak the native language. And of course you'll be in Japanese class 5 days a week.

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? Go to class! Get to know some people in the program who are better with the language. You will be surprised how quickly you can learn. And of course it doesn't hurt to do some practice before you go. Knowing hiragana and katakana will help a great deal with navigating the city.

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
  • International Students
About how many local friends did you make that you will likely keep in touch with? 10+

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • Location
  • People
  • Food
* What could be improved?
  • Housing
  • Pre-Departure Info
  • Less Homework/Studying
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Japan is even more amazing than I thought it could be. Just make the most of every day, and get to know as many people as you can. More than anything, get out of your comfort zone! Try new things, experience as much as you can!

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.'