A Semester in Kyoto: How Often do You Get Exactly What You Wanted? Past Review

By (Japanese, Western Carolina University) for

ISEP Exchange: Hirakata - Exchange Program at Kansai Gaidai University

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
My study abroad experience was definitely worthwhile. I gained a strong sense of independence and heightened my interest in travel and other cultures even further. I had always planned to work abroad at some point, so my experience didn't change my plans so much as it did enable me to accomplish them.

Review Photos

ISEP: Hirakata - Kansai Gaidai University Photo

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.

Kansai is known for language classes, so the Japanese language class was quite challenging. The international student classes are segregated from the rest of campus, but involvement with the native students is encouraged through school sponsored outings and programs. There was a great selection of elective/human studies courses.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

My housing was right next to a park and was a very pretty Japanese-style building. I was about a 10 min walk from campus and housed with other international students (we had the option of requesting a native roommate). There were a few bars and shops nearby, but since it was a small city there wasn't much of a "nightlife." It was a very nice little neighborhood, with a post office nearby, and very quiet at night. I was provided with most everything I needed (cookware, bedding, etc.) but I did have to buy towels and wash clothes.

* Food:

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

My host university has a really great program set up for international and native student interaction. In addition to home-stay and speaking partner opportunities, there were dozens of student-led outings and field trips to local tourist spots set up every month. My professors gave me information on several festivals and events, too.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* 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)

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? I set myself a spending limit of about $100 a week. I bought prepackaged or simple foods from one of several convenience or grocery stores nearby for dinner and weekends and ate in the campus cafeteria. I didn't shop very much, but I did a lot of sight-seeing.
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? At Kansai Gaidai (and with an ISEP exchange exclusively, apparently) the meal stipend takes a month to be set up, so students are on their own for those first couple of weeks.


* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? Beginner
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? Beginning Japanese II
Language acquisition improvement?

Most people on campus and in student housing spoke English. Students could sign up for a native speaking partner or a homestay program to heighten their language use and cultural immersion. Depending on what someone chose to do, students could practice Japanese everyday or hardly at all.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Dorm
* Who did you live with?

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  • International Students
* Who did you take classes with?

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  • Americans