PROGRAM TYPES

CONNECT WITH US

IES Abroad Tokyo - Language & Culture
IES Abroad participants in Sydney Opera IES Abroad participants in Sydney Opera

IES Abroad Tokyo - Language & Culture

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Community

    10

Surviving Japan with a little help from my friends

Honestly, I can't really put my experience into words. Everyday I wake up in the States and wish I was back in Japan. It was such a great time! I always wanted to go to Japan since I was in middle school and to have had this incredible opportunity to do so meant the world to me. The staff was always helpful, friendly, and treated me not only with respect but as a friend as well. The school faculty was amazing and I met some of the nicest people there. My transition from the States to Japan was smooth and whenever I had questions, I got answers. I never felt alone or felt as though I couldn't reach out for help. If I could go back to IES tomorrow, I would.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    9

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Community

    10

Eye-opening experience

IES Tokyo has one of the most dedicated study abroad teams in that you'll ever see in any program. They're a good size for how many students attend each term, and are thoughtful and dedicated to your experience in abroad in terms of academics, cultural immersion, and safety.

Some of my favorite highlights that I felt stood out from other programs:

- The availability of a student council that is elected each term that gets to plan group trips according to interest (anything from hiking Mt. Takao, to going to the Ghibli Museum) that really brings the study abroad students and e-Pals together and also allows students to explore places that they may not otherwise have gone to

- Thoughtfully created field trips with cultural immersion and learning in mind, but also fun (we did a trip to Hiroshima where we visited and learned about the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, but also were given time to explore the city, and we also did a trip to Nikko where we got to experience Japanese onsen)

- E-Pal program, where you are paired with a Japanese student at KUIS, the local university. They serve as your friend, first and foremost, but they are also great resources for questions about Japan and it also serves as a good language exchange. This is probably one of the best ways to immerse yourself into the community.

- Social Organization Class that allows you to intern once a week at a company/organization/non-profit and gain experience in a Japanese work environment. It is definitely good for your resume, and is a great learning and community experience.

- Academic classes offered are fairly diverse, though it depends if they reach enough students to hold the class. The classes the IES center offers are fairly eye opening classes and often to field trips to different places in Tokyo or the area around it. The outcome and overall learning from these classes tend to vary but you really get back the amount of effort or interest you put into the class. They are not particularly difficult either, which is good as it gives you time to explore Tokyo and the rest of Japan while also allowing yourself to be exercised academically.

- Host families are very thoroughly screened and selected by the IES Tokyo team, so your host family will likely be very safe and understanding. I personally had one of the best experiences of my life with my host family, but every experience is different, though most of my classmates had very positive things to say about their host families as well.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    8

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Community

    10

The perfect way to immerse yourself in Japanese life

Studying abroad was quite possibly the best decision I have ever made in my life. My choice to study in Japan was based on my interest in my personal cultural heritage. I grew up in a primarily white area and had hardly any interaction with my Japanese culture. I was thrilled to find that IES Abroad Tokyo could fulfil these needs.

From the time I stepped off the plane to the time I left, my study abroad experience was extremely rewarding. I felt welcomed by the staff, who were always willing to provide advice and truly cared about the lives of their students. Academics were not overly rigorous, but I still walked away from the program knowing a lot more about both the language and culture than when I arrived. As a molecular genetics major, I assumed that studying abroad would not help me much academically. But I was surprised to find that I became increasingly more interested in Japanese and decided to pursue a minor at my home institution when I returned home from the program. I was also able to participate in the field placement program, where I helped out at an acupuncture clinic and witnessed differences between eastern and western medicine (which I would eventually like to pursue). In this way, this study abroad program was also helpful for resume building and helping me to define career goals.

It was also very easy for me to immerse myself in Japanese life. The e-pal program helped me to find Japanese friends from the very start. Kanda University of International Studies, where about half of the classes are taught, also provided ample opportunity to engage in clubs and activities. Furthermore, the IES staff did a wonderful job of pairing me with a host family that perfectly suited my needs as a rather independent individual. And though the school in not located directly in Tokyo, I found that I was constantly traveling into the city to explore and attend many of the local events and festivals. The area around the school (and throughout most of Japan itself) is very safe, and I felt completely comfortable walking and traveling by myself (as a woman).

Traveling outside of Tokyo was fairly easy. The IES staff organized two trips to other Japanese cities (we went to Hiroshima and Nikko, but they are not always the same each year). They also gave me a number of suggestions and helped me to plan my two non-IES sponsored trips to Kyoto/Osaka and Sapporo.

I would highly recommend this program for anyone who is interested in Japan, or who is looking for an opportunity to learn about a culture entirely different from their own!

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    6

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Community

    10

Tokyo: Home away from home

No really, Japan feels just as much like my own home. That's how good it was. Don't believe me? Read on!
I made the choice to study abroad long before I entered college. I was fortunate enough to have some international experience growing up; I genuinely felt like I knew what I was getting myself. I was so wrong. Turns’ out, living in another country for 4 months is a lot different than sightseeing around Paris or Machu Picchu. It’s better. As a tourist, you miss everything that isn’t on the front page of the guidebook. Cool, you took a selfie in front of the Eiffel Tower and posted it with a different caption on four social media sites. 7 million people visit the Eiffel Tower every year, and nearly all of them take the picture. It isn’t special anymore; it’s a humble brag. I’ve been to the Eiffel Tower; it gave me a few minutes of happiness, which at the time, I believed was because I went on this foreign excursion where I learned so much about France. Or something like that. Anyway, what you miss is people. Tourists don't make friends. How can you? If you only have 7 days and can’t speak a word of the language, meaningful relationships can’t be built. My time in Japan isn’t memorable because I went to Tokyo Tower, Tsukiji fish market, Sky Tree, Kyoto, Osaka or Hiroshima. It’s memorable because of who I spent that time with.
My only reason for choosing Japan rode along the lines of “I’ve never been anywhere in Asia. I’ll go somewhere there!” From that, I applied for IES Tokyo. I knew surprisingly little about Japan before getting there. Many IES Tokyo students are Anime/Manga fans and cited that as the reason they came. Don’t worry, there’s a lot more in Japan than cartoons. IES Tokyo has an E-Pal program where they assign a local student from KUIS to help you in your transition. They are mostly English/International business majors, who speak English if you have no Japanese skills. The E-Pals in Autumn 2016 were wonderful. They aren’t being paid; they are there for the cultural exchange and the opportunity to meet foreign students. Don’t even consider not signing up for it, it’s the single best thing about IES Tokyo. The first two weeks you spend a lot of time as a big group of IES/E-Pal, and during this time, I started so many unforgettable friendships with not only my E-pal, but many others too. You’re going to Japan for cultural exchange; so do it! Take a genuine curiosity in your new friends, and just maybe you will find that they are also interested in who you are.
Japan itself is a fantastic country, you’ll get used to it fast. Use your Japanese skills, and you will find that Japan is accessible, customer-service oriented, and efficient. Almost everything is a tad different than we are used to in western countries, which is a good chance to do some cultural reflecting as to why that is. Broaden your mind! Also, Japan is safe. So safe, that if you lost your wallet, a Japanese person will run down the street to return it to you. Venturing out at night and feeling safe is something we don't have in the United States.
IES Tokyo is actually in Chiba, not Tokyo. Please be aware of this if you think you’re going to be living in Shibuya or something. That said Chiba is great! The dormitories are somewhat central between KUIS and Tokyo station, and many homestays are too. I lived in Ichikawa-Shi with a wonderful host family in a very central location. Most students were in homestays, and all recommended it. IES has a great pool of host families they use, so take advantage of that! Your host family is there to be your family, try to be close to them because they care a lot about you. I spent countless hours chatting with my host mother after dinners, I learned so much just by talking. Many older Japanese people have different world views than your peers at KUIS, so take advantage! The staff at IES Tokyo is wonderful. They are kind, helpful and knowledgeable if you need anything. Need a doctor? Ask the staff! Lose your glasses? Ask the staff! Mail a letter, feeling homesick or need to know the best ramen shop in Tokyo? Ask!
Caleb (IES Tokyo director) told me of what he called the “magic” of studying abroad. When IES students and E-Pals come together, it creates an atmosphere so amazing, he could only call it magic. I couldn’t agree more. It’s impossible to recreate, you need to live it yourself. When I first arrived in Japan, I told myself that this would be my only chance to be here, to take advantage and have fun. I’ve never returned to a country before because I like to see new places. Japan blew that out the window. I can’t imagine not going back now. Saying goodbye hurt a lot, which made the last day at the airport even worse. I was not ready to leave.. My story in Japan isn’t over yet. Actually, it’s just getting started. Take a chance on IES Tokyo, and it might change you. Maybe you will find a new home too. See you soon.
Kellen

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    9

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    9

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Community

    10

Program helped me grow academically and professionally

I had a great time studying abroad at Kanda University of International Studies. The IES Tokyo office (which is technically located in Chiba, a prefecture right next to Tokyo) is about a 15-minute walk from the campus so it is not hard to get involved with the local student population. In addition, this program offers a very good E-pal system which pairs you up with a partner for the semester. You can practice your Japanese skills, hang out, and get introduced to on-campus events. Everyone was very close with the E-pals my semester and we were all one big family. Although most of your classes are not on the college campus and are actually held at the IES center, I found the classes to be very interesting and insightful. It was very nice learning about some of the theories I've learned at my home campus back in America, but applying them specifically to Japanese society. The Japanese class I took (which is on the college campus) was challenging, but unfortunately be aware that there will probably be a great diversity of language levels within the class as there are only four levels. I personally have spent a great deal studying Japanese and had a lot of exposure to Japanese culture growing up, so it was a bit difficult for all members of my class to sometimes maintain a Japanese-only discussion in class. In addition, because the college you will be studying abroad at is a language school, many of the students are very proficient if not fluent in everyday English, so beware that you really have to take the initiative to improve in Japanese on this program. Well I can't say I became fluent in just one semester, I did improve and became more confident particularly in my presentation skills. Other students who lived with a host family also said their Japanese improved significantly. I personally chose to stay in a dorm just because I wanted to have a little extra freedom, but both living situations are excellent in my opinion. Living in the dorm was great for me because I got to experience a much stricter, different dorm life than from what I'm used to in America, plus I got to meet other foreigners who speak Japanese. In conclusion, I am so glad I chose IES to study abroad in Japan, and I can't wait to go back to visit all of the friends I made.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    8

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    9

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Community

    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 & Safety

    10

  • Community

    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 & Safety

    10

  • Community

    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 & Safety

    10

  • Community

    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

    7

  • Cultural Immersion

    9

  • Program Administration

    9

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Community

    9

Semester in Japan

I loved my experience studying abroad in Japan. The program is run through the Kanda University of International Studies, and there were lots of great ways to meet local students and get involved in the university community. Everyone I met was extremely welcoming. Many of the students at KUIS study English and are interested in learning about foreign, especially American, culture. I enjoyed sharing things about English or America with them and learning in turn about Japanese and Japan. The friends I made in Japan were an important factor in what made the experience so good. I think this is something which also makes this program unique.
The location of the university is about an hour outside of Tokyo, which was frustrating at times, but the public transportation is so great that it was never really a problem. All the students were housed in dorms or home-stays in Chiba. Again, this meant it was sometimes a long train ride to get into the city, especially for students living farther away. While this sometimes made it hard to make plans or go into the city on weekdays, it did provide a different perspective to life outside of Tokyo.
Transportation was probably the biggest cost. Trains can expensive, especially outside the city, and there is often no alternative way to travel. The food at the dorm was not very good, but all the other food I ate was really good. It was easy to find high quality food at low prices. There were often free festivals on weekends in Tokyo and many museums offered student discounts, so it was never hard to find something interesting to do on a budget.
Probably the lowest point of the program was the academics. Aside from the language courses, the classes weren't especially engaging or challenging and many of the professors seemed inexperienced or even unqualified. However, this also meant there was a very low workload, which allowed for more time to enjoy and explore Japan. At first I felt somewhat unstimulated by the academics, but I ended up being glad to have the time to see more of Tokyo and Japan.
Overall, while the program was not perfect, I really enjoyed my time in Japan and I would recommend this program.

Overall Rating

9/ 10

  • Academics

    7

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    4

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Community

    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 & Safety

    9

  • Community

    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.