Tokyo: The Best City in the World! Past Review

By (Asian Studies, St. John's University) for

Sophia University: Tokyo - Direct Enrollment & Exchange

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
Going to Japan really solidified my future plans of living and working in Japan. Everything from the people I met to the food and the city made me feel like it was the right place for me. Sophia University really gave me a great opportunity and helped make the transition easy from living in America to become a local. Because of this program I have decided to transfer to a college in Japan to finish my schooling. This trip really showed me that what I want to do with my life is right. I would recommend this program to anyone.

Review Photos

Direct Enrollment: Tokyo - Sophia University Photo Direct Enrollment: Tokyo - Sophia University Photo Direct Enrollment: Tokyo - Sophia University Photo Direct Enrollment: Tokyo - Sophia University Photo Direct Enrollment: Tokyo - Sophia University Photo

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.

The requirement of taking a Japanese language course while at Sophia was something that I thought really enriched the study abroad experience. I also thought that the variety of classes offered in english was good and that the pre-arranged housing made the whole experience much less stressful. Moving to a different country for a whole year can be a little scary, but Sophia University has been doing this long enough to make sure that you have help every step of the way. They thought of everything from giving us info on getting a cell phone, to how to get our visa and alien registration card, they were very adamant on us making friends and hosted a multitude of parties. Everything about the experience from the school to the people to the country was amazing!

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The only thing that was difficult at times with the administration was if there was a question for a department not directly and solely related to the FLA. Then it would be hard at times to find someone who spoke english well enough to get a question answered. However everything contained in the FLA building and department, including professors, was wonderful.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

The housing arrangements were very easy and convenient. However after spending the first semester in the pre-arranged housing I instead opted to find my own apartment and moved. The housing is good enough for the price but the building was a bit old. While furniture, like beds desks and a mini-fridge, were provided, it was then a random luck of the draw as to wether or not you got a TV or a microwave, or maybe even a rice cooker. Anything else you wanted you had to go out and buy, like sheets, pillows, cleaning supplies, ect. A basic assortment of bowls, plates and some silverware were also included with the room. The area where the apartment was located was very suburban and had many families. Besides the fact that I personally believe Japan to be the safest country in the world, the area where I was staying was exceptionally safe. On many occasions I walked home well after hours and never once felt threatened or unsafe. The apartment was a bit far from school, about a 10 minute walk from the nearest train station and then another 45 minuter subway ride. It was however, only about a 10 minute train ride from another bustling area called Ikebukuro. Ikebukuro is a great place to go shopping, go out to eat, see a movie, or just hang out with friends. Shinjuku and Shibuya also were only about a 45 minute train ride away as well and the ride was always a good opportunity to play a game or catch up on some reading. All in all the location was good even if the commute was a little long.

* Food:

Japan is a country that has some of the best quality food in the world; as shown by its excessive number of 5 Michelin star rated restaurants. Though Tokyo can be very expensive even diners on a budget can find good food, and not just japanese cuisine. Tokyo has a huge variety of restaurants to pick from, from authentic Indian, to Chinese, Korean, French, Italian, and great sushi! It even has McDonalds, KFC, Subway, Starbucks, Krispy Kreme, Dennys, Shakey's Pizza, and many other american restaurants. Vending machines abound and are great for a warm can of coffee or a nice cold beer. Out of all of the places that I ate, I would highly recomend Shakey's Pizza in Ikebukuro if you want a real pizza, Gut's Soul for an affordable but tasty yakiniku place, and Mumbai near Sophia University for some great Indian food.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

While I was at Sophia there were many outings I was able to participate in. Some of them were organized by my professors while other were graciously organized by local students who wanted to share their country with the rest of us. While in Japan I was able to go to Nikko, a very beautiful and ancient town that was known for its brightly colored leaves in the fall, Atami, a town by the sea about an hour south of Tokyo by bullet train, Kamakura, another town south west of Tokyo that was well known for its famous japanese writers, and even got to take a tour of Kao factory with my Management in Japan class.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

Unsafe places to be are definitely Roppongi night clubs. I have heard of more than once instance where people have been robbed or pickpocketed and even one story of a classmate being drugged. Drugs in Japan are not tolerated and I would strongly advise anyone going there to never even think about bring or buying any illegal drug. The healthcare in Japan was a little more difficult to deal with. While there are plenty of over the counter drugs that can take care of a myriad of symptoms and problems, when it is time to go see a doctor it can be kind of complicated. While Sophia does offer an on site mobile doctor at certain times during the week, it still is not the same as your general care provider back home. Trying to find other doctors offices can be difficult and expensive, even if you have insurance, because you will most likely have to pay first and then be reimbursed. The drugs the doctor gives you are different in Japan and do not usually come in the pretty orange bottle with a label like most of us are used to. Sometimes you will even be given medicine in a powder form that you are suppose to put in your mouth first and then drink water to wash down. While the packaging and presentation may be a bit different, antibiotics in Japan are still exactly the same ones prescribed by doctors in America. While in Japan I was unfortunate enough to get a sinus infection, it got to the point where I had to go see a doctor, the powder they gave me was for fevers and the pills, I found out after researching the numbers printed on them, were simply Biaxin, the same thing my doctor at home usually gave me for a sinus infection. While I didn't take the powder because I had motrin with me, I did take the antibiotics just as instructed and was on the mend by the next day. Finding the hospital I went to was a little difficult and it cost me ¥5,000 up front, but I did get better and was able to return to school the next day.

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 school is full of japanese students who not only want to practice their English with someone, but are eager to make friends and help them practice their japanese. They have a cafeteria in the basement of the FLA (Faculty of Liberal Arts) building where students have to order their food in Japanese, and also sitting areas designated specifically for Japanese and foreign students to interact and practice the language. Living in Tokyo, a city where not many people speak english, meant that I had to use the language on a daily basis, Sophia's japanese language classes really helped to prepare me for that.

Direct Enrollment/Exchange

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

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Apartment
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • International Students

A Look Back

* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Everyone who comes to Japan, no matter what kind of person they are, has one very important thing in common, they all chose to come to Japan! This is the key that makes making friends and having a great experience so easy. Just remember when going to Japan on a study abroad program that these students had the option of going anywhere else in the world, and instead they chose Japan just like you. With that you already have one huge thing in common and I'm sure you will be able to find more.