I had chosen the USAC Hiroshima program because I heard that Hiroshima University is not only one of the best Universities in Japan but that it also has a very strong Japanese language program. In addition to that, but since Saijo is such a rural town, it is a great place to study as the English proficiency of the locals is about the same as the Japanese language proficiency of those who live in Nevada... Pretty much non-existent! So be sure to learn some Japanese or at least the alphabet so you can have a head start in the language when you arrive.
The housing is nothing special, it can feel a bit gross at times, but if taken with a grain of salt one can remember that the reason they came to this program is not for the housing but for the immersion into the local populace and the mastery of a second language. With the incredible affordability of the dorms and the state it’s in, you will only use it for a bed, shower, and food and spend most of your days out with friends and the local people.
Other than that, the festival in Kure or the Sake Festival in Saijo are just a taste of all the great things you can do to become a part of the cultural experience and traditions of Japan. Luckily, living in Hiroshima, you are so close to other great landmarks such as Miyajima or Matsuyama that there is no excuse not to explore a little bit. Even during holidays there is a ticket you can buy for the trains for traveling long distances, as for which I used to go to Kyoto.
Japan is an incredibly safe country; there is not much concern of crime. I actually lost my newly bought Ipod on the bus and got it back within a week or so. I’m positive that is a level of safety and kindness that is rarely found in the cities.
Overall, if you are interested in becoming fluent and what to experience as much of the culture as possible without being broken by housing costs, this is the same program that I have recommended to my friends and family as well as I am recommending to you as the reader. The only thing I would have re-done is instead of a semester I would have spent a year in Hiroshima. But then again, I don’t think a year would have been enough for me either because the experience is just that amazing.