Past Review

By (Cinema Studies, SUNY Purchase) for

ISEP Exchange: Hirakata - Exchange Program at Kansai Gaidai University

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I really enjoyed the life in Hirakata Osaka. Conveniently situated in between Osaka and Kyoto - great spot to do a lot sight seeing and travel. Though living costs were high as long as you spend wisely its manageable. the faculty and student body is very welcoming making it comfortable living space and good environment to practice this complex language. Kansai Gaidai and Hirkata is good milieu to learn about this fascinating culture and a good place to try to live an independent lifestyle

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 2 weeks - 1 month

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

The Asian Studies Program at Kansai Gaidai is great program for those who are interested in visiting Japan for the first time. The teaching/grading system is by a letter system and is basically modeled after the western teaching system. I found the Japanese Language courses to be the most rewarding component of the program - the faculty in the language courses are flawless and I was able to use a lot of the grammar I learned from class to everyday use.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The Office staff were helpful and worked in timely manner to answer any of our questions or concerns.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

Japan is one of the safest countries in the world and though they constantly reminded of us peculiar local males who would flash young internal girls who'd lived in the seminar houses, no flashing or debauchery occurred this semester.

* Food:

Wide selection, and quite affordable lunches. The school has three cafetaries open for international students due to the overflow of regular Gaidai students in the main cafeteria. Along with lunch boxes available to purchase from noon, there is also a Seattle's Best Cafe and a McDonalds. You also have to option to go to local restaurants near the school. I think it's be difficult to find vegetarian option but the cafeteria is your best bet. Japanese cafeteria food is so much better if you ask me.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

They student body really tried their best to integrate the exchange students to their lifestyle and to their daily school life. They sometimes organized events where international students would bond with japanese students or organize field trips to visit local temples in Kyoto.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

though Hirakata may be considered a rural town, it certainly is safe one. The local police is conveniently situated right between campus and the Hirakata city train station.

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?

I could converse with teachers anytime I wanted. When I felt I was struggling there was also a chance to go the language table, a place where the TA's would help you out with anything from reading and writing to speaking in natural speed. Unfortunately for me too many of the staff in the office and the Japanese students spoke better english compared to my Japanese. In order to really improve and put the classroom work to use, I forced myself to only speak Japanese to all my new Japanese friends at School. I also found the locals in Hirakata city to be very warm and patient which gave me more opportunities to practice my Japanese. In the end, being in the country is an integral element to learning a language but essentially it depended on each individual's self-determination.

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

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Dorm
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • International Students

A Look Back

* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? If you are new to Japan this a great program to slowly adjust to the culture, the foods, the lifestyle and to develop a knack for speaking japanese

Individual Course Reviews

Course Name/Rating:

Japanese Speaking II

Course Department:
Instructor: Chikahide Komura
Instruction Language: Japanese
Comments: Komura Sensei was incredibly nice professor and by no means intimidating. Yet, due to the small classroom size he manage to keep and incredible rapport with each student in the class. He really pushed for everyone to get a grasp of beginner Japanese, covering both casual speech and Keigo (polite speech that we use when we speak to seniors).
Credit Transfer Issues:
Course Name/Rating:

Japanese Reading and Writing

Course Department:
Instructor: Maki Shimotani
Instruction Language: Japanese
Comments: Again I loved my teacher for Reading and Writing. I think one method of teaching Japanese that works at Gaidai, is the they separate both Speaking Japanese from Reading and Writing. This really makes its helpful not only for total beginners but also for someone like me who is intermediate, since the more intermediate chinese characters can be overwhelming to memorize and write. Shimotani was very great instructor not just because she would train us with our reading memorization/writing but we would also practice our listening. She would break down certain grammar and vocabulary that revolved around the kanji (chinese characters) that we learned.
Credit Transfer Issues:
Course Name/Rating:

Intersection of Fantasy and Real Life

Course Department:
Instructor: Paul Berry
Instruction Language: English
Comments: The material in the course was vast and yet included many classic Modern Japanese novels as well as contemporary best sellers. While I think Berry had a very interesting over-arching theme to build the course around, he did frequently go off tangents while covering the different works and authors. I think material used in the class were very interesting and seminal for western readers who might not be so well acquainted with Japanese literature. I don't think Berry needs to change the readings at all but should definitely mix up his routines. Having constant lectures and group discussions really got exhausting by the 4th month. If he included more documentary clips and/or interviews by the authors, I would find the course much more rewarding.
Credit Transfer Issues: