Messages from Past Participants
Isabela Rovira (KCJS, Spring 2017)
I’ve always wanted to study abroad in Japan before I came to college. I’m happy to say that it lived up to and exceeded my expectations! I attended KCJS in Kyoto and it was a great city to experience the rich traditions and history of Japan. I was able to study traditional arts and even learn shamisen from an internationally renowned performer!
I definitely learned Japanese the fastest by speaking with my host family every day. They were so kind and happy to get to know me.
Like so many others have said, the semester goes fast so make sure to go outside of Kyoto and experience everything the Kansai region has to offer! As someone who grew up without public transportation, I was amazed that I could basically travel throughout Japan by myself using only buses, trains and subways. And on top of that, Japan has some of the best public transportation in the world. Go out there and see Japan!
Elliot Oblander (Hitotsubashi University, Spring 2017)
Being on full exchange means there’s a lot less structure than a program centered around study abroad students like KCJS. As a result, it requires a lot more planning and forethought, but also affords a lot more flexibility; I was able to take mostly graduate-level courses in economics and challenge myself to learn new theories and methods in a way I hadn’t been able to do previously at Penn. Having the language exposure outside of the classroom meant my Japanese skills improved in ways that would have been impossible in the US. I met many amazing people and explored as much as I could to find lots of hidden gems of locations around Tokyo. My semester at Hitotsubashi was without a doubt the most challenging but most rewarding experience of my life. One word of advice: a semester is way shorter than you think it is! Make the most of your time, and spend a year abroad if you can!
Ji Kim (Hokkaido International Foundation, Summer 2017)
Summer in Hokkaido International Foundation(HIF) was exactly what I needed after a year at Penn. Not only was I able to immerse myself in a completely Japanese speaking environment, but also really broaden the view towards the world. Through the intensive Japanese language program, students are able to complete a year-long Japanese language curriculum in eight weeks. Additionally, there are so many exciting cultural classes that students can participate, which usually include interactions with local Japanese people. The Japanese language classes, experience with Japanese host families, cultural classes and interactions with program participants coming from various interesting backgrounds altogether shaped wonderful memories I had during the summer! I strongly recommend HIF program to people who are interested in the Japanese language and culture!
Nicholas Han (Kyoto Consortium for Japanese Studies, Spring 2017)
The Kyoto Consortium for Japanese Studies was a really great opportunity to experience living in Japan not as a tourist, but as a resident. In particular, the homestay program meant that I was able to live in a Japanese household, converse daily with my homestay family, and eat together. While of course I visited multiple popular tourist locations and shrines in Kyoto, what I found the most enjoyable was exploring and becoming familiar with the area; I had a takoyaki restaurant called Takotora near me that I frequented, a favorite ramen restaurant, and more. As for the classes and program at Doshisha University, they were great in helping me use my Japanese and find clubs/programs in Kyoto to participate in. The political history and manga classes were interesting, and I definitely enjoyed how they opened up a new perspective into the history of Japan different than the one that you would learn in the US. Overall, I really enjoyed the way KCJS integrated the student experience with the surrounding community.