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USAC JAPAN: Osaka/Kobe - Japanese and East Asian Studies
University Studies Abroad Consortium participants University Studies Abroad Consortium participants

USAC JAPAN: Osaka/Kobe - Japanese and East Asian Studies

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Community

    8

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Living Situation

    8

  • Academics

    7

You'll more than likely have a great experience

Like any other study abroad experience, you get what you put into it. If you're willing to embrace the culture and accept it for what it is, I believe your time in Osaka will be fantastic.

Culture shock is a very real thing, and for some of my fellow exchange students it was rather difficult. But I believe that the issue was because they were unwilling to adapt and embrace the culture. I find that the other Japanese students at the University (Kwansei Gakuen University of KGU) are usually willing to be your friend, but they are just as scared of leaving their comfort zone as much as you are. The difference, though, is it is much easier for them to stay in their comfort zone (seeing as how you're in Japan), and many of the tend to be shy as well. So as the foreign guest, more often than not it'll be up to you to keep yourself from solitude outside of the exchange student group. However, KGU has a huge focus on accommodating foreign students, with a number of programs in place to help support you and get you more comfortable with the other Japanese students. And because of this focus, KGU's foreign exchange staff are VERY nice and helpful and patient and overall wonderful people. BUT, even though I say this, do keep your expectations realistic. Japan is notoriously bureaucratic, and KGU is no exception. You will find other students, staff, etc. who may be difficult to deal with. Take that to heart, as I believe it can make or break your experience at KGU. Being open minded will be in your best interest.

You may realize this by now, but the the scariest parts of the program involve the Japanese culture and its people. However, the benefit here is that this program is in the Osaka area, which is not only a large city with all sorts of progressive thinking folk, it is also one of the regions with the most open-minded and laid back people in Japan. Frequent trips to the city or to random areas everywhere in between, can result in some memorable, or even lifelong encounters (especially if you look foreign, I didn’t have that going for me… My friends did, though).

Those are my thoughts the program outside of the scope of the ratings I have given. Here are some details on each rating I gave:

Academics: You will test into which course you will be place in. I don’t know much about the higher levels, but the lower levels will definitely keep you busy as well. The text we used wasn’t to my liking, and one of the teachers wasn’t very helpful.

Living Situation: The dorm options were all pretty spiffy from what I could gather from my friends and can be a great experience. As for the homestay, my personal experience was great and so were most of my other friends’ experiences; however it is still a gamble. You may score with a great family, or you might get to experience the asian parent stereotype (the bad kind) firsthand.

Cultural Immersion: I mentioned this earlier. The KGU foreign exchange staff (CIEC) are very helpful.
Program Administration: Again, the CIEC staff are great. The Teachers are, for the most part, also great.

Health & Safety: Japanese insurance is great (coming from US health insurance). Everything is so much cheaper. If you want the Japanese Encephalitis shot, I suggest you look into getting it in Japan, it’s much cheaper. And Japan (at least Osaka), is insanely safe. With the exception of a few sketchy areas, you could lose your wallet and expect to get it back with everything still in it.

Community: With official support from KGU, you’ll likely be able to make some Japanese friends with little effort. Just make sure you put in the effort in the first place. And I’m sure you’ll make friends with the other exchange students, since many of them will likely speak english, and because they’re all there for likely many of the same reasons you are.

I hope my opinions were helpful, and I wish you all the best of luck!

Overall Rating

9/ 10

  • Academics

    7

  • Living Situation

    8

  • Cultural Immersion

    8

  • Program Administration

    7

  • Health & Safety

    8

  • Community

    8

Once in a Lifetime

I really enjoyed my study abroad experience through USAC. It provided me with the courses to go from a very minimal basic understanding of the language to comfortably talking with others in Japanese. I still made errors, but the progress I made was awesome. Beyond courses of different things within Japan and east Asia, the courses were very basic. I took a class on psychology, thinking that we'd discuss the differences in care/perception and the like, but it was a basic intro to psychology class. Other than that, my experience with the classes were great. I learned a lot and gained a huge appreciation of Japan. The locations are really neat too. The dorms were minimal, but the homestay option really helped and encouraged growth in language as well as cultural differences. It also really helped me feel connected to someone in a new place as well as feel encouraged.

With the program, I really think it becomes what you make of it and being aware of what you want from the experience.