Adjust, Adapt, and Study Abroad in Japan! Past Review

By (Creative Arts, San Jose State University) for

ISEP Exchange: Hirakata - Exchange Program at Kansai Gaidai University

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
Yes, the study abroad experience was more than worthwhile. I feel that I have grown up to be more independent and culturally aware. I learned more about Japan and myself as well. It was such a unique and different experience that stretched me in different ways. It has taught me to be more patient and be less complaining. It is something I wish I could do over and over again.

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.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Their program is very strong and well organized. They had many supports, programs, and was very willing to help with any questions or concerns people may have. The one weakness I would point out is the clique that international students formed by simply remaining in the center of International Education. It would have been difficult to fully integrate as a "normal" student in the university.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I lived 10 minutes away by bike with a family of five. I did not need to buy any necessities for myself, as the host family provided everything. The neighborhood was (seemed) very safe, a typical Japanese suburban home. I was treated as a family member, though at times it seemed like a guest as well. The family thought of me before themselves, though sometimes I would have wished they had treated me as any normal family member.

* Food:

Japanese food is delicious and nutritious if you know where and what to eat. Since I lived with a host family, I was able to eat a variety of food that could not be found in restaurants. Vegetable dishes are not common in restaurants. There are many foods that are fried, or carbs. The food portion is also different, smaller and less greasy. Since the restaurants in Hirakata are used to international students, it is not hard to find an English menu.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Theree were many field trips with Japanese students available for sign up with limited space. Though I did not go on any, I did go to many cultural sites with my own friends. I really enjoyed the Japanese cultural festival, something that is down in every school. I was able to observe how hardworking the Japaense students were, and how close to heart having a community was to them.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

If you followed the rules, it was very safe. Japan is already a very safe country. THe main concern for students is bicycle accidents, or catching a cold. Since you have to pay upfront when you go to a hospital, students without insurance may find themselves in trouble. From what I hear of my friends, the medicine in Japan is not as strong as medicine in America. Medicine such as Nyquil or Tylonel is illegal in Japan. However when I did take some tablet medicine provided by my host family, it did help me a lot when I was sick. There were no any known vaccines that I needed to take.

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

Language acquisition improvement?

We could sign up with speaking partners, and anyone who came into the international building would be happy to practice Japanese with us. I did need to use Japanese in everyday interactions. Most people did not speak English.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans

A Look Back

* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Be prepared to be flexible. An aggressive, go getter student would benefit the most from this program, be sure to take advantage of any programs and events the university may have. Everything is an opportunity to learn!