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IES Abroad Tokyo - Tokyo Summer
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IES Abroad Tokyo - Tokyo Summer

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    8

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Community

    10

So grateful for the new experience!

I recently finished this program and would highly recommend it to anyone who wishes to be in a great location in Tokyo (right next to Yoyogi Koen) and experience a lot of cultural immersion. The program follows the Genki i and Genki ii books for the beginner and intermediate speakers and more specialized books for the upper levels. Classes are a little over 3 hours a day from 8:45 to 12 noon which allows you to have the rest of the day free.

The program schedules various outings and activities that have you get to know Japan outside of just the bustling city life of Tokyo. I believe the activities change a bit every year, but one of the continuing options is the weekend homestay in Mobara, Chiba. It's a more rural area, especially compared to Tokyo, however, the Homestay is definitely one of the most rewarding parts of the trip. The other trips include visits to various sites and stays like onsens and traditional Japanese inns.

The location in Yoyogi is great because it's quiet, but it's only a few minutes walk from the nearest station and only a 20-30 minute walk through the park to Harajuku. It's prime location.

Tokyo (compared to most cities) is expensive. I'd budget about $150 a week for necessities (food ect) and then another 150 for buying things/experiences. You don't need that extra 150, but since going to Tokyo isn't exactly a common opportunity, I'd say it's well worth the savings to do so.

Also you need much less clothes then you think. I'd pack for about a week and half worth of clothing, you don't need fancy dress shirts or many long pants. Tokyo is quite warm in the summer. I'd pack a swim trunk (unless you want to buy one in Tokyo) because the homestay is right near the ocean and it's absolutely marvelous.

I'd also go and check out the museums and galleries around Tokyo. I regret only being able to see a few but they're well worth it. Also for those interested in the Ghibli Museum, you have to buy a 10 ticket from a Lawson conbini (convenience store) machine. I'd either bring someone who can read a bit of Japanese, look it up online or look for ジブリ in the machine prompts. You have to get them pretty far ahead of time, but it's well worth it. The Ghibli museum is a ton of fun and has great souvenirs (but a lot of it is WAAAAY overpriced so be careful of that. The main gift shop is super expensive, but there's a bookshop a little bit hidden that is much more reasonable and has great books available. I'd recommend picking up one of the "movie novels" where they turn a Ghibli film into a manga as since you know the story it'll work as great practice to help your Japanese reading skills (plus it comes in Furigana))


The only thing I could ask from the program was to be a bit longer, 6 weeks goes by so fast!

One thing that I was worried about before attending is that the website lists a "curfew", however the curfew is a curfew in name only. It doesn't prohibit you from leaving/returning to the campus after hours, it just means after a certain time instead of freely going and coming you have to just sign in before coming back. We've had many nights out till dawn and had absolutely no issue coming back.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health & Safety

    8

  • Community

    10

I'd do it all over again

I was a student for IES Abroad's Tokyo Summer program this summer (2016) and it was the best experience of my life! I'd do it all over again if I could. I honestly could not think of a single flaw about the program!

Everything from the first day until the last made me feel like I made the right decision about which program I should participate in. The placement test were very accurate in putting the students where they belongs academically. My language teacher was great, very understanding, and patient, as were all the EPALS and staff members. I learnt a lot and wouldn't hesitate to 10/10 recommend this program in terms of academics.

As a Muslim Arab, naturally, one thing that I was worried about when I started the program was discrimination of my background. However, there was never a moment where I had to face any of that. I quickly realized that the group of students I was with was very international. There were many people from different backgrounds, which I loved. I learnt a lot not only about Japan but also about other cultures from the students I was with. I think that is one advantage of studying abroad.

I am so thankful that this program is set in Tokyo, there are so many things to do and see!

I wouldn't think twice about doing this program again! Thank you IES Abroad!

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    10

  • Living Situation

    8

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Community

    10

Experienced so much in Tokyo with IES

This is my first time experience with IES program and I love it so much! Everyone from the program was so friendly and helpful throughout the whole program, from pre-departure meeting until we left Japan. I was surprised of how fast they reply emails and how explicitly they explain your concerns. Also, they had ambassadors in our campus, (still do) who have participated in IES program before. It is always easy to approach to them asking questions about transferring credits and living experiences, etc.

It is a 6-week program, Mon - Fri mornings have classes. Other than that, you are free to do anything in your free time. Classrooms are located right beside Yoyogi Park and is super close to Shinjuku, so it is really convenient if you want to explore center Tokyo. And it's only 20-minute walk to Harajuku. If you want to explore Japanese teenager fashion styles, just walk through Yoyogi park and it'll be right there. Housing is small, but I wouldn't complain about it since I didn't have much stuff and I didn't spend lots of time in the dorm. There are so many things to explore around! About the convenience, it's in the center of Tokyo! The closest railway station is Sangubashi Station, 5-minute walk away. Breakfast fee are included and around the station there are many restaurants as well so you won't have to worry about food and travel. :)

Teachers are really nice! My teacher discussed about Anime she and her husband loved. :D It was Hunter x Hunter if anyone knows. Homework would be just around 1 - 2 hours per day depending what level you are in. There will be class day trip to wherever you choose (we went to aquarium). Besides, IES also provides several trips for you to experience Japan. I went to all of them. I loved home staying so much. It shows me how Japanese family live their lives and it was a fantastic experience. Please do all of the trips they provide if you ever go to Tokyo Summer with IES Program. One of the reasons would be they are all free ^ ^. Also it's a great way to get along with your mates in the program and to make local friends along the way. We go abroad to experience a new culture, to do everything that we would have no chance to do. If you have something in mind, don't hesitate and just do it. All these great trips prepared by IES Tokyo staff really created great memories.

For suggestions before going abroad in general, pack things you will definitely need and leave those unnecessary things. Going to Tokyo will end up buying lots of cute things, manga, accessories and even clothes. If you keep good track on how much you spent every time, the cost wouldn't be too expensive. It would be better if you have places to go in mind, but don't worry if you don't have plans. You can just sit on the train for a whole day just to see every corner of Tokyo.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    8

  • Living Situation

    7

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Community

    10

An amazing experience

This was my first time visiting Japan, and I'm very happy that I chose IES. I was looking for a summer program in Japan, and this was the perfect fit for me. Overall, I had an amazing experience, and I would definitely do it again. I made so many new friends that I'm still in touch with, both in the program with me and Japanese locals. The academics were a little intense at 5 days a week, but it is a six-credit course. The housing accommodations are VERY small, even for Japan standards, so pack light. But don't worry, you'll have plenty of free time outside of classes, and I was active enough that the living situation didn't really bother me. The location is amazing, right by Yoyogi park and a 20 minute walk to Shibuya Crossing. The staff was extremely helpful, and the teachers are very kind and understanding. In short, if you are looking for a summer Japan program, I highly recommend this one. Also, don't let the language barrier intimidate you, you'll pick up on it faster than you'd think.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Community

    10

Most fulfilling

There is so much to say about Japan and so many stories to tell but the best word to depict my experience would be, "fulfilling". The IES program did a great job in helping students to experience local culture to the fullest by providing exciting field trips such as Nikko, Kamakura and homestay. And homestay was definitely the highlight of the entire experience. It was the greatest opportunity to connect with the locals and get a better picture of Japanese cultures.

In addition to these cool cultural discoveries, I was amazed by my own personal development. I learned to budget my own money and time as well as to study the most efficient way. For the past twenty years, I had problems with waking up early and procrastinating assignments. However, I became so responsible that I would get up at 6am every morning to study Japanese and spend at least 4 hours everyday to prepare for my upcoming quizzes and exams.

Apart from studying, I also enjoyed touring around Tokyo with friends and talking to random strangers to practice my broken Japanese. It was astonishing to see how western culture was nicely blended in Japanese traditional cultures. Tokyo has over 20 prefectures and each of which has its own character and specialty. Definitely recommend to anyone who loves exploring and having fun!

In experiencing life in another country, I found myself becoming more open-minded and, as a foreigner who spoke little of the native language, I felt humbled and appreciative of the kindness shown to me by IES staffs, students and host family. By far, it has been the most fantastic experience ever!