Japan Past Review

By (Pre Medicine, University of Massachusetts Amherst) for

Youth For Understanding (YFU): YFU Programs in Japan

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
My experience abroad has instilled in me a great deal of respect for the Japanese culture, language and land. I plan to double major - Biology and Japanese Linguistics - because of my trips to Japan. The Japanese culture has taught me respect, reverence, harmony, endurance, responsibility, and discipline. As well as the importance of duty and honor. I know it may sound cliche - but it is not: These are truly the qualities that I have learned through my studies abroad. I hope that someday you will have the opportunity to acquire the same wonderful gifts through your studies, as I have from my studies in Japan. (because if I can do it: You can too!)

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 0-2 weeks

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

The teachers are much closer to the students than in America (for instance: many students have their teachers cell phone numbers, and many of the student parents will invite the teachers over for dinner). The students are for the most part quiet during class. They rarely ask questions, and hardly ever talk amongst each other. Questions were for the most part saved to asking friends (after school), juku (cram school) - or just figuring it out on ones own. Students (or the studious ones) would take notes during class, and textbooks were brought to class almost every day (in the ever so popular shoulder sling - Adidas - bags). The subjects were taught at a pace comparable that of the United States. The teaching method most commonly used was the "Lecture" method, and teachers would accompany their lectures with pictures, diagrams, and notes written on a chalk board. I was surprised to find however that most of the material covered was quite advanced for the age group at hand - and ahead of the United States in it’s aspect.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

This program was absolutely magnificent. It was very organized, prompt and experienced. The leaders were kind, helpful and fun.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

My host family changed my life. The neighborhood was quiet, quaint and taken care of - albeit tight knit! My most mother provided a bed, sheets, utensils, and even shampoo. My most mother treated me like her very own daughter, and for the first time in my life - I had an older sister... I miss my host family so much, they truly changed my life...

* Food:

No dietary restrictions. My host mother cooked three meals a day (she got up at 5 am to make my breakfast and lunch... For the first time since sixth grade (and until I would graduate high school) - I was fed three meals in a day). She would make beautiful meals, quite elaborate, in quite large quantities - even though there were just three of us (Mother, Older Sister, Me) - But I can not be more grateful.. Her cooking was the most delicious I have ever tasted in my life, and to this day I miss it. Also, for future students - the Konbini is a wonderful place to get lunch/breakfast/snacks. When I went abroad my second time (hotel stay) I went there often! Also the Ramen shops are really good!

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

My most mother took me to see Okayama - It was so beautiful... And YFU allowed us to meet for lunch with our advisers at one point, and took us on a day trip to see one of the Nuclear Museums.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

Japan is quite safe.

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
Language acquisition improvement?

I was able to practice the language with virtually everyone. Because I resided in a slightly more rural area of Japan, fewer people spoke English: and thus I was able to practice my host language with much greater ease.

If applicable, to what degree did your living situation aid your language acquisition?

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
  • Hotel
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family

A Look Back

* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Willing and Determined. Willing to see, to learn and to experience a way of life other than ones own; and determined to make the most out of it. Any student who wants to go to Japan (in my eyes) is willing! And only you can decide if you are determined. Other qualities that are nice: Respect, kindness, reverence, gentleness, endurance (a big one!), perseverance, basic knowledge of etiquette, a decent ability to read and respond to those around you (basic social skills ~ i.e. awareness), and a fighting spirit. But really, none of these traits are mandatory right off the bat - because you learn them when you are there. :)