Cool Times in Kobe August 12, 2019

By (University of Illinois - Urbana-Champaign) - abroad from 01/08/2018 to 05/31/2018 with

University of Illinois: Illinois Year-in-Japan Program

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I’m not a huge fan of traveling, so at the outset of my college experience I hadn’t even considered studying abroad, but by chance I wound up spending a semester in the Year in Japan program, and I am so glad that I did. While in this program, you don’t feel like you’re a tourist on vacation; you get to fully ingrain yourself and interact with the culture on a much deeper level. The location is fantastic: walking distance from the pleasant town of Okamoto (definitely try all the bakeries), a quick train ride from downtown Kobe (a perfectly sized city), and close enough to Osaka that you could make a trip on a weeknight with little issue. The language classes go at a great pace – fast enough that you’ll see your abilities make a noticeable improvement but not so fast that you’re overwhelmed and can’t enjoy life in Japan. My host family was flawless, cooking me delicious meals multiple times a day and going above and beyond with supporting me and helping me through the challenges of living in a completely different culture on the other side of the world. The staff at Konan do a great job of ensuring all of your paperwork and travel documents get properly filed, as well. One of the most unexpected highlights of my experience is the quality of friendships I made with other students from all around the world. I went into the program knowing no one and left with lasting bonds with people from Canada, Hawaii, Europe, and plenty of other places. Not only was it an incredible experience, but it was also surprisingly affordable, and, because the credits transferred back to my home university so easily, I was able to graduate in 4 years with a minor that I otherwise would never have gotten, so I can’t really think of any downsides to Year in Japan.

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

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

* Food:

This would be 5 stars if I didn't not like Japanese food in general

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

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

Finances

* 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)

Language

* 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? 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? Semester 3
How many hours per day did you use the language?

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • 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?
  • Location
  • Academics
  • Friendsip
* What could be improved?
  • Field Trips
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? If I had known how great it was going to be I may have gone for longer

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!