You will learn something, whether you try to or not Past Review

By (The University of Texas at Austin) - abroad from 04/01/2019 to 08/09/2019 with

Iwate University: Morioka - Direct Enrollment & Exchange

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
The most valuable thing I gained from this experience was a stronger identity and confidence in myself. Being an outsider in a country like Japan with so few foreigners definitely tested my ability to handle standing out, and I would say being forced to sink or swim did wonders for me. This won't be the case for everyone, it certainly wasn't for some people I knew, but I think I grew as a person.

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.

I studied Japanese here and felt the classes were a bit too simple for me. They were nice and helpful, of course, but most of my learning I did on my own, interacting with people and the culture. I don't recommend taking too many courses at once, because I was constantly drowning in busywork.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

There are many resources, including your own personal "tutor", that really saved my sanity. There was always someone to talk to if you were confused by something.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

The international dorms were full, so I stayed in a university-sponsored apartment and loved it. I had my own bathroom, kitchen, a spacious bedroom, and an actual air conditioner. I heard from friends, however, that the dorms were small, hot, and used a pay-shower.

* Food:

There were many food options, which was especially nice for me as I can not cook well at all. Between the cafeteria, campus store, and the convenience stores littered about there was always something good to try or satisfy a craving.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

There's only so much you can do to truly feel part of such a foreign culture, at least to me as an American, but everyone was more than excited to do what they could.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I never had to use the health services, but I knew where the University clinic was and how to pay for services at least.

* Safety:

Japan is well-known for their safety, so there were nearly no issues. I occasionally had to walk home after dark and never felt unsafe.

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

I highly recommend this program, but I, personally, would not pick it again. The thing about study abroad is that it might not change your life, you may end it with a "meh" rather than cries of sadness over leaving, but you absolutely will learn something. That's what makes it valuable and worthwhile. Morioka is a very interesting town that is bigger than a rural, middle of nowhere field, but smaller than a city like Tokyo, Kyoto, or Osaka that can get stale fast. I enjoyed my time there, but after spending a week on my own in Tokyo I found that I much prefer a city with more options, more places to sight see, more shops to waste money at. For first-timers though, I definitely recommend Morioka if you want to be forced into a unique experience or forced to use Japanese.


* 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)

Cooking yourself is definitely the cheapest option, but I am not that smart. Rent plus utilities was around $150 a month. Food about $70-80 a week was enough for me. With rent being so cheap, I did not have many monetary issues.

Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? If you cook, ask around about which stores have things cheaper. Japan's shopping culture is very different and many stores may sell certain meats or vegetables for cheaper. If you don't, buy based on how many calories the meal has. You can easily get a 700 calorie lunch for about $4 or $5 if you pay attention.


* 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

Everyone pushed me heavily to use and improve my Japanese. In classes almost 0 English was used and you will interact with many other exchange students from other countries who don't speak English, either.

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? Beginner
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 611D
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? If you want to improve you have to do two things: 1. use it, 2. study outside class. As long as you make the effort to not rely on your native language and follow up by studying content outside what is covered in class, you will improve.

Direct Enrollment/Exchange

* Did you study abroad through an exchange program or did you directly enroll in the foreign university? Exchange

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Apartment
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

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

Select all that apply

  • Americans
  • International Students

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • The support
  • Being forced to use Japanese
  • The experiences and opportunities set up by the university
* What could be improved?
  • The tutors could play a more active role in introducing you to the area
  • Some kind of update on local events or festivals would have been helpful
  • A guide or explanation on shopping in Japan would help remove some of the initial anxiety of everyday life
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? The procedures and paperwork of living in Japan were very chaotic. A tutor will help you with everything of course, but it felt like I was registering and doing paperwork for the entire first month.

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 Academic or Linguist
You went abroad with specific academic goals in mind; the program credentials and rigor of your coursework abroad were very important to you. You had a great time abroad, but never lost sight of your studies and (if applicable) were diligent with your foreign language study. Good for you!