Adventure in the Land of the Rising Sun! Past Review

By (International Relations and Affairs., University of the Pacific) - abroad from 03/19/2012 to 08/03/2012 with

ISEP Exchange: Kyoto - Exchange Program at Ritsumeikan University

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
Learned more about my own ethnic identity, the history and influence of US-Japan race relations, and the ability to understand and engage indirect communication styles. yes, so worth it.

Review Photos

ISEP: Kyoto - Ritsumeikan University Photo ISEP: Kyoto - Ritsumeikan University Photo ISEP: Kyoto - Ritsumeikan University Photo ISEP: Kyoto - Ritsumeikan University Photo

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? None

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The administration was very helpful for the beginning parts of the semester: they organized a "buddy program" with Japanese students to pair up for conversational practice and guiding us around to show us where we could buy groceries, toiletries, etc. However, the last few weeks of our stay were very rushed and the entire check-out process was a nightmare in an attempt to coordinate check-out times with our flight departure times. The program did not not let us know in advance when we needed to check-out by so some of us booked our return flights with an assumption of when the semester was supposed to end. This caused conflict for many us.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I enjoyed my one-room apartment however during the summer months, my neighbor and I had an infestation of cockroaches in our apartments and the landlady only gave us traps to deal with the problem. It was still unsure how and why they were only in our apartments, whereas the rest of the building did not have any problems like this.

* Food:


* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I injured my hand during the last week of my trip and had to go to the emergency room. I assumed (rather wrongly, I suppose) that because I had three different insurance plans (the ISEP insurance, the national health insurance of Japan, and my US insurance) that I would be covered for my medical expenses or at least have an affordable co-pay for my 2 doctor's visits. It was more expensive than my home insurance policy.

* Safety:

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? No


* 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)

* Was housing included in your program cost? Yes
* Was food included in your program cost? Yes
Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? $40
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Get most of your stuff at the 100-yen shops. They have basically everything you'll ever need and the quality is great.


* 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

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? Fluent
How would you rate your language skills at the end of the program? Advanced
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? JPN 0125
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? Don't be afraid to speak it and make mistakes. It is definitely scary in the beginning but once you take risks, people are more receptive to your willingness to learn and speak the language. Also, be determined to learn! Often times, you will only be able to speak that language in that country so take advantage of the opportunity.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Apartment
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • Americans
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

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

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • Got to take classes with other native Japanese students
  • A lot of freedom to travel and do things with the Japanese friends we made there
* What could be improved?
  • The dates of arrival and departure could be more finalized before actually telling us to book our flights
  • More organization of cultural immersion activities
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? The amount of Americans going to Japan through this particular program.

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.'