Getting to know myself and life outside of the US September 17, 2023

By (Japanese Studies, Middlebury College) - abroad from 08/25/2022 to 06/29/2023 with

Middlebury Language Schools: Japanese Language School

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I gained more self-awareness and independence, as well as expanding my world outside the US.

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

We received much valued academic support from the on-site staff, though in terms of transitioning into a new environment, support often felt lacking.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I enjoyed the dorms at ICU.

* Food:

In comparison to Middlebury dining the availability of the food was limited since the dining hall would close at 2pm with no dinner options. However, food in Japan was easy to find.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I was able interact and get to know Japan and the Mitaka community well, though volunteering and cultural experiences. Though my first semester was difficult since it felt very lonely and isolating. Due to the language barrier it was hard to make friends, though venturing outside of school was easier so I was able to explore the city and during breaks the country.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I tested positive for covid in Japan and Arakaki Sensei, one of the Middlebury Staff, helped me all the way. She helped me book an appointment at the clinic and accompanied me and checked in with me while I was quarantining.

* Safety:

I often felt safe to live my life freely. I could go out late at night to the store on my bike, on the train, or to social events with friends. However, Tokyo is still a city so it is always best to be vigilant, though in terms of safety as a woman, I felt cared for. When I needed help in transportation, people would be kind enough to help me.

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

I think life in Japan was a changing experience for me. I was able to reflect on what I wanted in life and in the future. As well as improve my speaking abilities, though there were many hardships.


* 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, thankfully. Though shopping and transportation in Japan can be expensive.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? Most likely $250 dollars
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? I think it is best to budget and think about the things you wish to buy and if it makes sense.


* 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

We have a language pledge, so I was only able to speak Japanese.

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? Japanese 202
How many hours per day did you use the language? 10+
Do you have any tips/advice on the best ways to practice the language for future study abroad participants? I think it is best to go outside of the school and in an academic context to build your skills. I learned to best communicate in restaurants, shops, and flower arrangement classes.

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

  • Local Students
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • 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?
  • My community internship with an ikebana teacher
  • My traveling
  • Meeting new people
* What could be improved?
  • Open conversation about life in Japan as a foreigner
  • Student Mental Health
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? It is okay to not feel at home, you do not need to rush and force yourself to make friends. Breath and take in the world around you. Your Japanese will improve you are not behind, everyone has their own pace. And most importantly do not be afraid to speak Japanese!

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.'

Individual Course Reviews

Course Name/Rating:


Course Department: Japanese
Instruction Language:
Comments: I believe it was not challenging enough. At the beginning of the year, we took a placement test, though often students placed themselves. Due to this I placed myself in a lower level then I should have been, so the class felt slow and not academically inspiring.
Credit Transfer Issues:
Course Name/Rating:


Course Department: Japanese
Instruction Language:
Comments: My favorite JLP I took on campus. The teacher cared for our improvement and provided homework and resources meant to advance our speaking abilities. I could note my improvement.
Credit Transfer Issues:
Course Name/Rating:


Course Department: Japanese
Instruction Language:
Comments: It was a good class, not as good as JLP 4 though, but good. I think the more advanced JLP courses you take the more freedom a student is given. For someone like me, I wished we could have more personal attention. I appreciated moving on to more societal issues, though they often felt foreign to us since they were niche information on Japanese culture.
Credit Transfer Issues:
Course Name/Rating:

Introduction to Japanese History

Course Department: Interdisciplinary
Instruction Language: Japanese
Comments: This was the first content course I took in Japanese it was very difficult. I enjoy history and wanted to learn about Japanese History since there are no classes taught in Middlebury about it, but I felt woefully ill-prepared. The content was interesting, though the professors' method of teaching was lecturing for three hours. I wish it was more interactive.
Credit Transfer Issues:
Course Name/Rating:

Comparative Politics

Course Department: Politics
Instruction Language: English
Comments: The professor made the classes interesting and interactive. Our assignments ranged from essays to video reviews, and presentations. Though the more academic analyst topics such as making statistical models were difficult, I received much knowledge from this class.
Credit Transfer Issues:
Course Name/Rating:

French 101

Course Department: French
Instruction Language: Japanese
Comments: Taking a language taught in a foreign language was fun. I was able to place myself back in the shoes of myself when I first began learning Japanese. The instructors were energetic and made language learning fun.
Credit Transfer Issues: