Blending the Old With the New Past Review

By (Birmingham-Southern College) - abroad from 08/24/2017 to 12/22/2017 with

Kansai Gaidai University: Hirakata - Asian Studies Program

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
It was most definitely worthwhile. Living abroad opens your eyes in so many ways that I feel as though it's something you have to experience to be able to understand. Being surrounded by a new culture, a new way of living, and new philosophy changes you. Even having to walk to school through the city every day changes the way you think about transportation back home (in America, for me).

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

Occasionally slow and often leaves students in the dark about important details until close to their deadlines.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

The housing staff was wonderful. At one point, I was very ill and needed to go to the hospital, so one of the caretakers and the RA drove me to the Hospital instead of making me pay for a taxi or struggle with public transportation.

* Food:

On campus, there was always the same food every day. Thankfully, it's located in a very public area and going across the street to eat at an Indian restaurant or eat traditional udon was easy.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

By living in the Seminar Houses, you're surrounded by fellow foreigners. Practicing Japanese would occur if you lived with a host family or awkwardly stumbling through transactions at the cash register. Some Japanese students might approach, but it was rare.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

When I was sick, my Okaasan (the female head of the seminar house I lived in) brought me medicine, monitored my fever, brought me breakfast, and even found transportation for me when I had to go to the hospital. I'm very thankful. However, a friend of mine injured her knee while snowboarding and she needed to make multiple visits to a much further hospital. In that case, she was 'invited' to take a taxi each time.

* Safety:

Hirakata is a very safe city, but 'gaijin' hunters are a problem, particularly if you are a female. Walking alone at night is ill-advised, especially if you are white-passing.

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

Kansai Gaidai is located perfectly between Osaka and Nara, which are two major and historical cities. Tokyo is close enough for a Shinkansen ticket or airplane ticket to cost a little over $100 two weeks before your travel date. It's a great location with wonderful staff, though it could be somewhat frustrating at times.


* 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)

Life in Japan is a bit expensive. Bus fare is 230 yen, regardless of whether you are going one stop or eight stops. The train systems are also pricey. Most of my food went to paying for my icoca (travel) card than my food or goods expenses.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? 150
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? If you have a free period around lunch time, go back to the dorms. The school's food is cheap, but it's the weekend outings that will be costly. Cook when you can. Rice is your friend.


* 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? None
How would you rate your language skills at the end of the program? Beginner
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? 0
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? Meet some Japanese students at the beginning of the semester! Most of the students chose this school to practice their English so the beginning of the semester (especially fall) is the best time of year to meet new people. The spring semester is more difficult because of the Japanese school system's different break schedule; most Japanese students don't truly attend classes again until the end of March.

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

  • Dorm
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
  • International Students
* 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?
  • Staff/Teachers
  • Language Courses
  • Location
* What could be improved?
  • Timely Announcements
  • Respect (Don't treat college-age students like children)
  • Communications
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? It takes a painfully long time for your meal stipend money to arrive, you have to pay 200 yen per load of laundry and the driers don't even work, and bring a power strip/surge protector.

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!