JCMU Changed My Life September 12, 2019

By (Albion College) - abroad from 09/05/2017 to 04/20/2018 with

JCMU Japan Center: Intensive Japanese Language & Culture

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I learned to be more confident in myself, both when using Japanese and English. I am able to do presentations and talk to new people easily compared to before I went.

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.

This is an intensive program, but I never felt overwhelmed with the amount of work needed. The professors are available for help when you need it, and do weekly check-ins to make sure you are progressing in your language abilities and not falling behind.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Everyone in the JCMU staff is prepared to help you when needed, and are prepared to give you the support you need to succeed. Whether its medication or medical issues, stress and homesickness, or just wanting to chat with someone, there are always staff to talk to.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

If you are staying at JCMU in the housing provided, you will be in a small but appropriately sized apartment. You have your own bathroom and kitchen, and laundry facilities on site. If you are someone that needs to be housed alone, they will make accommodations for you. Otherwise you have a roommate.

* Food:

JCMU does not provide a meal program, but there is a small family restaurant connected to the building that is affordable. There is a bakery and 7-11 within walking distance, and a grocery store in biking distance.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Being in a smaller section of Hikone, there are more small family run stores and restaurants near Hikone Castle. There are a few community programs held at JCMU that students are invited to, as well as the opportunity to be partnered with a language partner. Hikone is within an hours train ride to Kyoto, and about two hours from Osaka and Nagoya for anyone looking to experience Japanese cities.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

If you get sick or need to go to the hospital, you will be taken right away. Harada-san will help you with any paperwork, as well as translation. If a taxi is needed, JCMU will cover the charge. Otherwise there is a JCMU car that is typically available.

* Safety:

Hikone is a very safe town, and you are required to wear a helmet while riding your bike.

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? Yes

I frequently have dreams about returning to JCMU, and if I could go back and do the program again I would in an instant.


* 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)

I was able to live comfortably within my budget.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? 100
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? If you are someone that likes to buy souvenirs and eat out, I would recommend bringing more money. Food in Japan spoils faster because they use less preservatives than in the US, so keeping that in mind while buying groceries is recommended. Fruits and vegetables can be expensive because of the high quality, but only buying what you need is doable.


* 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

The Japanese classes are taught using only Japanese, unless a question cannot be asked in Japanese. You are encouraged to speak with anyone you meet, and JCMU has an English program for Japanese college students that live in the same building.

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? Intermediate
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? Beginner
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? Studying in the common areas with your friends, both in your level and others, will help you immensely. Closing yourself off and only studying by yourself will hurt your progress.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Apartment
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

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

Select all that apply

  • Americans
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?
  • Teaching Style
  • Location
  • Small Size
* What could be improved?
  • Making sure students understand how easy it is to get healthcare when needed
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wish I knew how to study more effectively, but I learned new skills through my classmates and friends. I also wish I knew how easy it was to get the healthcare I needed. I was still in my American mindset that going to see a doctor will be time consuming and expensive, while that was not the case when I was having heath problems. I was seen quickly, got the tests that I needed, and was able to easily afford the cost of care.

Individual Course Reviews

Course Name/Rating:

Japan and Nature

Course Department:
Instructor: Kazu Shimada
Instruction Language: English
Comments: This is a Shiga College course taught at JCMU, and included natural disaster preparedness and how the Japanese culture is inherently connected to nature. There were multiple relevant field trips, and Kazu-sensei is a great professor.
Credit Transfer Issues:
Course Name/Rating:

Model Japan

Course Department:
Instructor: Benjamin McCracken
Instruction Language: English
Comments: This class is great for learning more about the different regions in Japan in a fun way. With debates, presentations, and overall casual environment, it was one of the most enjoyable classes. Mr. McCracken is a wonderful teacher, and well prepared to answer questions or point you in the right direction.
Credit Transfer Issues: