The Uniqueness of Japanese Culture and Language Past Review

By (East Asian Studies., Brandeis University) for

IES Abroad: Tokyo - Tokyo Summer

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
Studying in Japan was right in line with my East Asian Studies major. The only real trouble I had, was the cost of living in Tokyo. Transportation, food, and entertainment costs can quickly rack up if you're not careful. However, Tokyo is a very safe city in terms of crime rate. Even in you drop/lose your cellphone or wallet, you can more often than not expect it to turn up in the local police station's lost and found. Although it was only for a summer, just living in a culture so different from the ones I'm used to, greatly expanded my awareness of both the culture and the language. Although I did have hopes of working in Japan, even before I studied in the country, after this experience, I am even more resolved to find work in Japan after I graduate.

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.

Depending on the class, there was varying amounts of work. There was a good amount of homework and projects, but not overly so.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The staff were very helpful, and were ready to answer any questions. Although necessary, I thought the half-dozen orientations we had to attend were a bit much.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

The host family was very accommodating and friendly, and since they did not speak English, I had very many chances to practice Japanese with them. In the dorms, on the other hand, there was not many chances to practice Japanese, but living in dorms did give a sense of comfort and familiarity.

* Food:

Especially in Tokyo, food is pretty expensive, although there are cheap places if you know where to look. The quality of food, however, was always outstanding.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

We took many field trips for classes, ranging from local high schools to shrines and temples. They were both enjoyable and educational. Although we were reimbursed for travelling costs for some of the trips, some of the other trips were rather expensive.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

With the recent earthquake in Japan, I felt like most of the staff took extra steps to prepare us and reassure us, in terms of disaster safety.

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)


* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
Language acquisition improvement?

Most people in Japan did not have a very good grasp of English, so even trips to the local 7-11, a basic understanding of Japanese was necessary. It was easy to practice the language, for in most cases, English could not be used to communicate properly.

If applicable, to what degree did your living situation aid your language acquisition?

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

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

Select all that apply

  • Americans
  • Host Family

A Look Back

* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? This is a summer program, so you wont make ridiculous strides and bounds in language learning. However, even within a summer, the constant exposure to the language will probably make you feel more at ease both listening and speaking Japanese. Of course, another giant aspect of this program is the cultural experience. Japan has a very unique and singular culture, and it was fun to try to understand and immerse ourselves in it.