Don't just travel Japan. Live it. August 16, 2019

By (University of Illinois - Urbana-Champaign) - abroad from 09/09/2015 to 05/30/2016 with

University of Illinois: Illinois Year-in-Japan Program

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I won't say my time in Japan was a fairytale or any kind of long vacation. Because the length of the program is a full academic year, it offers you the opportunity to genuinely experience Japanese society. My Japanese improved not only through taking classes, but also by working through conflict and exchanging ideas with my host family, my teachers, and my Japanese friends. The YiJ program showed me everything I love about Japan, just as it showed me the parts of Japan I can't always agree with. I think this was one of the most valuable parts of my study abroad. This program gave me the chance to not only explore Japan, but also become a part of society and experience everyday life.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 2 weeks - 1 month

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:

* 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

I went on the Year in Japan (YiJ) program my senior year of college (2015-2016) and it was by far the best year of my college career. Hesitant to be away from home for a long period of time, I was actually only planning to do half of the YiJ program (i.e. Fall semester only) and come back to Illinois, but within a matter of weeks I was enjoying myself so much that I asked to extend my stay and complete the full year long program. First, the location, Kobe, is an amazing place to live. Kobe boasts a beautiful mountain view no matter where you look, it's just a walk to the sea shore, and there are tons of shops, restaurants, and malls in the area that you can easily buy anything you need [or want]. Additionally, no matter what part of Japan you're looking to explore, the area is extremely conveniently located in between all of the major destinations within the Kansai region of Japan (e.g. Osaka, Nara, Kyoto, etc.), and even Tokyo is a very quick plane ride away. The program itself also provides you more than enough time to travel and explore. Second, the staff running the YiJ program are incredibly helpful, kind, and supportive. They will handle and work you through any concerns or difficulties you may have regarding your health, adjusting to life in a foreign country, or simply learning how to get along with the people around you. The on-site staff, the Japanese teachers, and my resident adviser were always there to listen and answer my questions. Last, the students at Konan University, particularly the ones who frequent the Global Zone [which hosts the majority of international student events], are incredibly warm and welcoming. They are all eager to both teach incoming students about Japan, as well as learn about other cultures. Interacting with the Konan University students and getting to know each of them is what truly made my trip fulfilling and worthwhile.

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)

Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Don't spend half your scholarship on crane games.

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? Intermediate
How would you rate your language skills at the end of the program? Advanced
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? JAPN 204
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? Choose a host family that doesn't speak English.

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

  • 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
  • Staff
  • Local students
* What could be improved?
  • Class length
  • Extracurricular courses
  • Opportunities for interaction outside school
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Budgeting is a valuable skill.

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.'