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IES Abroad Tokyo - Language & Culture

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    8

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    9

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health and Safety

    10

  • Social Life

    10

Eternally grateful for the experiences I'd had with IES

IES Tokyo made for the best possible experience of immersing myself into the Tokyo lifestyle. From the beginning, the coordinators were extremely helpful and organized -- both in Chicago and on-site. The Tokyo center staff were always available when you had any sort of issue, which was very helpful. The E-pal program is honestly what's lacking from any study abroad program that doesn't implement it. Before you even go to Japan, you're paired with someone at the university (Kanda University) who becomes your built-in local friend from the start. Because of all the organized activities planned for IES students and their e-pals, it's easy to make friends with others' e-pals as well, diminishing any worries about making friends with locals while abroad. Don't wait until the middle of the semester like I did -- start hanging out in Kanda's section called SALC: it's an English-only part of campus where Japanese students come looking for foreigners to practice their English with, and it makes it so much easier to make friends! Also, opting for a host family over a dorm room was the best decision I'd made. My family was extremely welcoming and I experienced a lot with them that I couldn't have on my own. While anyone can come to Tokyo, IES makes sure your four months abroad are as immersive and exciting and educational as they should be. I couldn't have chosen a better program provider.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    8

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health and Safety

    10

  • Social Life

    10

A Great SA Experience in Japan - Just Take Time to Immerse Yourself

My study abroad through the IES program was an amazing experience. From the beginning, IES Chicago and Tokyo kept in good contact, regarding all predeparture information and tips. If you choose to do so, there is also an E-pal program through IES and university in Japan, which lets you get in touch with a Japanese student before arriving. This makes for an easier transition into school and friend life once in Japan! My home stay family was caring and supportive, adding much to the program as a whole. Academics may be challenging to some, easy to others, depending on what classes you choose to take, and what level of Japanese language class you are placed in. No matter what you take in school- there is plenty of time to explore, go on IES sponsored trips, and participate in your own interests (nightlife, shopping, touring, etc.). But make sure to take time to immerse yourself in the culture individually as well, and go out there and explore! IES does a great job allowing guidance as well as freedom.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health and Safety

    10

  • Social Life

    10

IES Tokyo-Kanda University of International Studies

Coming from the position of trying to fulfill graduation requirements to completely falling in love with a country, studying abroad in Tokyo is absolutely a life-changing experience, and IES Tokyo is what made that happened for me.

I was given the chance to learn about not only the language, but also Japanese culture, sub-culture, living with a traditional Japanese family, going to a Japanese university, meeting many Japanese and international friends, and last but foremost become a global citizen. The academic requirement with IES in Tokyo was challenging but fun which facilitated my learning of both the language and the culture. The events and trips that IES Tokyo office host are often times free of charge which they provides the best opportunity as they could to facilitate your experience of in Japan. During my stay, I traveled to Kyoto, Nikko, Kanazawa, and I also went to many museums inside Tokyo.

I decided to go study abroad in Tokyo just because I have to go some country, and now I am completely in love with the culture and the people there. If I had not study abroad with IES, I wouldn’t have such a great opportunity to explore the other side of the world and meet so many wonderful minds coming from different backgrounds.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    5

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    8

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health and Safety

    10

  • Social Life

    7

Beyond City Limits

Tokyo is an amazing city, and there are more opportunities and activities there than you will ever manage to try. But while the program is centered in the Tokyo area, that's not all there is to Japan. The beauty of studying in Japan is that there is a fantastic train system that can take you just about anywhere in the country for relatively cheap. All you need to do is get the hang of riding those trains, and the whole country opens up!

Most of Japan is still pretty rural, and the landscape is beyond breathtaking. This is especially true when the leaves are changing during fall semester, or the sakura are blooming during spring semester. If you're feeling athletic and want to get outside, there are historic nature and hiking trails just about everywhere. Nikko is especially good for this, as there is a truly stunning gorge you can hike along.The river at the bottom is an unbelievable turquoise, and with the red and gold leaves it's beautiful and fun both.

If nature hikes aren't really your thing, a fun activity would be to look up famous Japanese festivals and then take a day trip out to visit them. My personal favorite was the Narita taiko festival. The food was delicious, the mood festive, and the drum performances lining every street where just unbelievable. I'd highly recommend going to see it (and make sure to try the unagidon! It sounds strange, but it's delicious!).

And hey, if you really don't want to leave the city, that's fine too. There's plenty going on right there in the Tokyo area. If you're looking for something fun there, see if you can't catch the Jidai Matsuri in Asakusa. It's main feature is a parade down main street, and it's amazing. Feudal lords, samurai, princesses, ninja, peasants, and about fifteen hundred different performance acts just strolling along. Talk about a blast from the past!

My point is, as much fun as the bright lights of the big city are, there's a lot more to Japan than that. And with access to the train system available to all, you can get out there and explore it yourself! So don't be afraid to take trips out of the metropolitan area, even if it's just to another big city like Yokohama or Kyoto! I guarantee you'll have the most fun at the most random places!

Overall Rating

9/ 10

  • Academics

    7

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    4

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health and Safety

    10

  • Social Life

    8

Tokyo for a Semester

I had a fantastic time with IES Abroad in Tokyo, Japan. First of all, the location of the program was exactly what I'd been hoping for during my semester abroad. The IES Tokyo program is largely conducted in Chiba, Japan, the prefecture (like states in America) next to Tokyo, which was an ideal location in my opinion. Chiba is very comparable to Long Island, NY in that it is by the water, and a slower-paced residential area only an hour away (by first-rate public transportation) from one of the largest and brightest metropolises in the world. So you can go into Tokyo for the day by train, enjoy the city, and leave the bustle and fast-pace as you return to your quiet and welcoming town to rest after an action-packed day in the big city.
The next thing I'd like to mention is the IES Abroad local Tokyo, one of the most wonderful staff groups I've ever met. The 5 primary staff members are extremely nice and caring, fantastic at their jobs, and will do anything humanly possible to make your time in Tokyo one of the best experiences of your life. Thanks to the housing director at IES I was given my host family, an aspect of the program that was one of my all-time best life experiences. My host family and I got really close and learned so much from each other, and that's all thanks to the time and effort IES Tokyo puts into finding a home that is the right fit for you.
The only part of the IES Tokyo experience that I didn't absolutely love was the fact that most of the classes were in English. I am a mid to advanced level Japanese speaker (I have been studying since middle school) and while IES does offer classes taught completely in Japanese, the classes are 2 credits each, making the only classes that would apply to my major in English (all courses taught in English are 3 credits and my home institution only accepts 3 credit courses towards majors). My Japanese language ability improved immensely while I was in Japan, but I had hoped that more of my required coursework would be taught in Japanese so that I would have developed more academic Japanese language skills. The disclaimer for this section is that this situation is unique to my personal Japanese level and study abroad objectives. Many students that study abroad in Japan come from backgrounds with no formal Japanese study, and are very content with the English courses offered.
Overall, I had a phenomenal time studying abroad with IES Tokyo, and would wholeheartedly recommend IES Abroad as a study abroad provider, in addition to generally recommending Japan as a study abroad destination, with any provider.

Overall Rating

9/ 10

  • Academics

    7

  • Living Situation

    7

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    9

  • Health and Safety

    9

  • Social Life

    10

Lifetime Friends and Experiences

Study abroad is an eye-opening experience. Japan is an amazing place to study abroad. The culture is different from America but after a week or two you will adapt to it. Coming to this program I wanted to make Japanese friends and hang out with them, what happened during the program went way beyond my expectations. The Japanese are very nice and eager to learn English and speak English with you so it was so easy to make friends and go to different places with them in Tokyo. Tokyo is a large city with many beautiful places where you can go meet and hang out. The amount of parks within this metropolitan city is very surprising. They take care of their trash and keep the city clean unlike many US cities where there is litter all over the place.

With the program, there is more than just Tokyo. You have a week where you can travel with your friends to anywhere within Japan since everyone has break. The program also includes trips to other famous cities where you might not even think of like Kanazawa and Nikko. Even though Japan is small the different areas have different specialties.

In the end, study abroad is about having fun, making friends, and lifelong experiences. You have to be self motivated to explore all of Japan and create these memorable experiences for yourself. In the beginning it may seem like you have 4 months but it flies by when you have amazing friends by your side.