Absolutely Unforgettable March 14, 2020

By (University of Illinois - Urbana-Champaign) - abroad from 09/04/2019 to 12/21/2019 with

University of Illinois: Illinois Year-in-Japan Program

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
It was absolutely worthwhile, in every way possible. My language skills improved, my abilities to interact with other people and make friends improved, even things like my independence and self-confidence improved. I really feel like I changed as a person, while working on my goal to become more advanced at Japanese at the same time.

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.

8/10

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

10/10

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

10/10

* Food:

10/10

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

9/10

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

9/10 Medicine and doctor visits are easily affordable, not like in the US. It can be difficult to communicate if you're with a doctor who doesn't know English well, though; my host mom helped me.

* Safety:

9/10 I did have one situation that made me feel uneasy, but I was able to get out of it without too much issue. Like anywhere, trust your gut. For the most part, I was not afraid to walk around at night or travel places by myself.

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

I think everything about the program was pretty much perfect: the location, the classes, the students, etc. If I could go again, the only thing I'd choose would be to stay the whole year.

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)

I'm simply putting an average rating because my parents financially supported me while abroad.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? ~$100 (most was from exploring and buying things I didn't really need)
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Buy lunch from the cafeteria or conbini. If your host family is making breakfast and dinner for you, it's not that hard to not spend money on food otherwise. Of course, though, you're going to want to explore and eat out once in a while, so just try to limit yourself.

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? Intermediate
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? JAPN 202
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? If your kanji skills are lacking, the website Wanikani helps a lot; it was a huge help in letting me navigate places by myself.

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

  • Local Students
  • 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 (Kansai area)
  • Host family
  • Class format
* What could be improved?
  • I honestly can't think of anything
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Don't stress about your Japanese being perfect. It will improve, even if you don't notice it, and the probability is 100% that you are less prepared than you think you are if you've never been in Japan before. So just accept that and take it easy. Adjusting isn't that hard, really, once you accept that you will make mistakes, and that's fine.

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!