AICAD in Japan

Academics: 7
Support: 10
Fun: 7
Housing: 10
Safety: 10

I was an AICAD student studying in Japan from January to August of 2016. Some of my most favorite memories in my life right now are from my months in Japan: learning and being able to finally speak Japanese, adventuring, connecting with Japanese roommates and other study abroad students, and experiencing a new way of life. Japan has so much to offer and I feel I was definitely able to make the most of my time. That being said, you can also end up only going to classes, never talking to your roommate, and only experiencing the activities the program schedules on field trips, so if you want the most out of the experience, it is important to be proactive.
I came into the program knowing very limited Japanese. There a far amount of English on signage around Japan, but honestly not many people speak English, so the entire experience is really being immersed in a Japanese only environment. At first, I couldn't speak it, and the first day I had a lot of challenges communicating with my roommate, who spoke very limited English. That being said, even by about two months into the program, I was able to get to a level of proficiency where I was able to stay with a non-English speaking family with minimal trouble. At the end of the program, the amount I was able to understand and speak really astounded me.
Being able to learn the language while we explored the country open up a lot of unique opportunities, too. Many of the most interesting activities that you can do are only advertised in Japanese, or are hosted by regular non-English speaking Japanese. My friend and I made our way up to Hokkaido for one of our breaks, and found ourselves in Furano, a small town surrounded by nature and mountains, and famous for it's winter skiing, summer lavender fields, and fresh dairy. When we went, we also didn't plan very well and didn't know what we wanted to do, but we spotted a tour of a dairy farm on our brochure, and decided to give it a try. In order to get a tour, you have to call and make an appointment in Japanese, but we were able to do it and get a personal experience making ice cream from scratch. We later went to Tottori, where because we could communicate with the owner, we went blueberry picking and got free yogurt at the end of it. The owner even gave us a ride back to the station because she was so tickled we could speak to her.
Japan in general is an amazingly fun country to explore, but without knowing the language there are a good amount of things that are barred off to you. Going through this program is a really unique opportunity that helps open up a lot of opportunities and interactions with real people you wouldn't otherwise have gotten.
On the art side, the art school you go to, Osaka University of the Arts, has a beautiful campus, and really friendly teachers. It is in south Osaka, which doesn't have a lot of foreigners, so it's easy to feel out of place if you don't look Japanese. I took printmaking. Hora-sensei is very sweet, but will only speak to you in English. The print-making itself was interesting for me because that's not my major so I had to experiment and learn how to do it from scratch, so perhaps if you are already far along with printmaking proficiency, the class will feel more like an open studio because there is not very strict direction. It might help to come into the class with an idea for a project.

Would you recommend this program?
Yes, I would
Year Completed