Japan Study Report Past Review

By (Finance and Financial Management Services., University of Hawaii - Manoa) for

Sophia University: Tokyo - Direct Enrollment & Exchange

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
Studying abroad prior to graduation is a once in a lifetime opportunity that will help you grow as both a student and an adult. It will afford you the chance to understand life through the perspective of another culture and it will give you ample opportunity to make foreign contacts, which can be invaluable in the business world. Money should not be an excuse because there are hundreds, if not thousands of scholarships designed specifically for students aiming to study in a foreign nation. It is quite easy to return home making a profit through your experience abroad. Time should not be an excuse because you can take classes abroad that count toward your graduation requirements. This experience has made me want to pursue a career in Japan and I very well may follow that path depending on my employment options in Japan.

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.

Very similar system to UH grading and teaching. This is in part because it is the FLA school and it is an international school. Because of this I found myself very comfortable during class because there was no difficult transition to make.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The service was good but nothing special. It seemed like most of the staff did not speak good english, although it was not a problem. I just expected a native english speaker to be there, especially because the university is known for being a great international school. But there was nothing negative to say about them. They gave us a nice orientation and party afterwards and were always helpful when we came in with questions.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

The Koganei dorm was a good choice for me. Although I probably would not recommend the dorm system to anyone looking to perfect their Japanese. This is because the dorm has many international students and you will tend to hang out with them instead of trying to mingle with the Japanese students. The living quarters were quite small, but this is expected in a Japanese dorm. Our daily meals were great. Homemade meals by our Ryobo-san, and a small staff to help her. Sheets were provided for our rooms. The Ryocho-san (dorm boss) was really nice and always helpful.

* Food:

Food in japan was great. I had the luxury of having 2 meals a day at my house, but other than that we would go to different restaurants everyday. Food at the school cafeteria was also very cheap and very good.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I basically visited all the Japanese tourist attractions, and it was a great time. Everything from visiting the bustling Akihabara to climbing mount Fuji. I recommend everyone end their journey in Japan by climbing mount Fuji. It is very tough but very rewarding. Also you should look into clubs and circles at Sophia University. There are literally hundreds of different clubs at Sophia University. If you can think of a hobby then I guarantee you that they have a club for it. There are both clubs and circles that you can join. Clubs are generally much stricter in that they meet many times a week, and attendance is mandatory. Circles are looser with their attendance policies and generally will accept anyone and everyone. In my experience it is better to join a circle, as this gives you more time to enjoy other parts of Japan, while still being a part of a unique group that will welcome you whenever you have free time. The university does not require you to join a club or circle, but I am telling you that you MUST join a club or circle if you want to enjoy your Japan experience. Joining a club/circle is the best way for you to make Japanese friends and to learn the language via oral communication. I personally joined a soccer circle, and it made my experience in Japan that much more special. It’s not only a good opportunity to keep yourself occupied in an area of your own interest, but it gives you the chance to make connections with students that can help you out with your daily life.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

The school has a mandatory insurance that you must sign up for. In addition to this, you are able to sign up for national health insurance, which is at a very minimal cost and in some cases it will be free. I felt very safe throughout my exchange, and although I did catch a cold every now and then, I found that there were some very effective medicines in Japan that helped cure my illness very quickly

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


* 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)


* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
If applicable, to what degree did your living situation aid your language acquisition?

Language acquisition improvement?

The only negative aspect was that they give you a strict placement exam which is not open for discussion afterwards. They placed me in a lower level than I should have been in, and this meant I was reviewing material that I've already studied. Other than that it was a great class and I learned a lot of Japanese from the class and the teachers. At Japanese level 2, the teachers speak only japanese to us in class and we all understood her. If we didn't, then she communicated brilliantly by giving examples in Japanese until we understood what she was saying.

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
  • Local Students

A Look Back

* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? You will feel comfortable at the school because there is such an international climate at Sophia University. There are many foreign exchange students attending Sophia, so you will always be comforted by the fact that there will be someone for you to talk to. However, let it be known that the school itself is not an “international school.” The FLA is just one of many Faculties at Sophia University, and the large majority of students will be Japanese. So while you may feel comfortable at times, you will have plenty of opportunity to mingle with Japanese students outside of class. If your main goal in coming to Japan is to study Japanese, then this is the one time I will suggest that perhaps Sophia University is not your number one option. The reason I say this is because at Sophia University it is possible to go the entire semester without speaking a word of Japanese. This is because you will be spending a lot of time in your classes (which will be taught in English) with your classmates who will be speaking in English. If your number one goal is to study Japanese then I would suggest going to a school that is located outside of Tokyo, where English is rarely spoken. But don’t let me scare you off. It is entirely possible to learn a lot of Japanese at Sophia University. You just have to make sure to not give in to temptation and hang out with your Japanese friends in lieu of your foreign friends. You will also have ample opportunity to learn the language in your Japanese classes, whether you take intensive Japanese or regular Japanese.