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Kyoto Consortium for Japanese Studies (KCJS)

About

Study abroad with the Kyoto Consortium for Japanese Studies (KCJS)! KCJS is based out of Doshisha University in Kyoto, Japan. The program focuses on intensive Japanese language courses along with other Japanese studies, including religion, culture, history, writing, and more. Students must have an intermediate grasp on the Japanese language before attending, so that they can get the most out of the program's full immersion approach into the language and culture. Students have the option of apartments, or the more encouraged home-stay with a local family. Check out more information below, or on the KCJS website!

Reviews

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genkisugiru
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

KCJS was fabulous!

KCJS was really a holistic program-- the classes, which are taught in Japanese for the language courses, and Japanese or English (depending on if you want to take a Doshisha or Ritsumeikan class or if you want to take a class with mostly foreign students). The best part, though, was the events they scheduled for outside of the classroom (they brought in professional kimono dressers, and we all rode around in rikushas one day around the gardens in Heianjingu, and we spent a day doing a winter hike to a mountain temple and had a meditation practice with a Zen Buddist monk, etc.). And of course I adored my home-stay, who were just such giving people and forgiving of my busted Japanese.

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Alumni Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with verified alumni.

Why did you decide to study abroad with KCJS at Doshish University?

When I studied abroad with KCJS, it wasn’t actually at Doshisha University—it was a program affiliated with Ritsumeikan (another well-known university in Kyoto), and housed in a small off-campus building near Heian Jingu, behind the zoo (you could sometimes hear the animals over the fence, it was so close).

However, I chose to study with KCJS because it came so highly recommended. I attended Washington University in St. Louis for my undergraduate, and WashU happened to be one of the members of the Consortium that is headed by Columbia University that makes up the “C” in KCJS. Most of my classmates were also from Consortium schools (Columbia, Princeton, UPenn, Harvard, Cornell, Stanford, University of Michigan, Emory, and a few others), but you don’t have to be a Consortium student in order to apply or be accepted.

My Japanese professor said that it was the best program she knew of to go to academically, and she strongly encouraged I should go. (As an additional bonus, my scholarships from my university still applied, because of the billing arrangement with WashU and KCJS). My older brother had also studied abroad there 3 years prior, and could not say enough good things about the staff and the services provided.

What made your study abroad experience unique and special?

I think it was the opportunities provided outside of the classroom, to be honest. I had the most wonderful host family, who worked closely with my program to ensure that my transition went smoothly. The housing staff also worked in the capacity of acting as go-between as needed (thankfully, this wasn’t needed in my case, but some cross-cultural miscommunications did take place between other students and their homestays, and it was great to have someone mutually invested in both sides to explain the situation to and see that it was resolved).

Also, the staff was fabulous. They knew where all the fun community events were happening (calligraphy classes, traditional archery instruction, Judo dojos that would take on foreign students, religious ceremonies, etc.) and they planned wonderful field experiences (including but not limited to arranging for professional kimono dressers to doll up anyone who wanted to go for a rikusha ride in style, going to a Zen temple to practice meditation and drink tea with the monks, traveling to Okayama and later Hiroshima/Miyajima as a group, and providing students with assistance in planning personal trips, in my case to Okinawa and Sapporo).

If you end up attending KCJS, I would strongly recommend asking for advice on activities to join, particularly if you have a specific cultural interest that is not addressed in the academic offerings available. They are a wealth of knowledge, and looking back, I regret that I didn’t take more advantage of the resources available.

How has this experience impacted your future?

Personally, I came back from Japan feeling like I was 10 feet tall and able to take on anything! Because, really, if I could handle being thrown into a setting so different from the one I had grown up in and could handle communicating in a language that is admittedly not for the faint of heart language learner, what couldn’t I do, really?

Professionally, even though this experience was the highlight of my undergraduate career by far, it taught me that my plan to teach English in Japan wasn’t really what I wanted to do, after all. I’m so glad I learned this before I finished school! I ended up finishing my Japanese major at WashU and falling into counseling instead, which incorporates my love for teaching while utilizing a multicultural perspective much needed in the field today. I live in Washington, DC and routinely help out at the National Cherry Blossom Festival, and I continue to keep up with my Japanese so I can comfortably stay in touch with and visit the multiple friends and family members I have living in Japan now.

Had I wanted to pursue a career using my Japanese skills, the KCJS alumni group is active, and routinely host get-togethers in person and electronically exchange news of opportunities in the field.