I chose CET for the chance to be roommates with a Japanese student, and to experience Osaka, a city that seemed to be a loud, fun, vibrant counterculture to Tokyo. My semester abroad turned out to exceed all my expectations and left me with heartwarming memories and a whole lot of personal growth.
HOUSING: CET offers the chance to room (either in a house or an apartment) with Japanese students who attend Osaka Gakuin University. I lived in a house with three Japanese girls and two other Americans, about a fifteen minute bike ride down a gorgeous path from school. I believe my housing option was a happy middle between a homestay and a dorm - I had the independence of living on my own (cooking for myself, no curfews, privacy), and the opportunity for cultural exchange with Japanese my age. My housemates became some of my best friends - some of my best memories are small moments we all shared, sitting around the kitchen table studying together, my Japanese roommate explaining kanji to me, cooking American food for our Japanese friends. This sort of housing option operates as a safety net (you probably won't be isolated or lonely very often) and an opportunity to create lifelong bonds. Also, on a practical note, most study abroad programs in Japan require a significant commute to campus, but all of CET's housing is either within walking distance or a 15 minute bike ride/5 minute train ride.
ACADEMICS: CET academics are rigorous and tough; the standards are high, and include about 2-3 hours of Japanese class daily and a research project. You will spend at minimum one hour studying each night. Although I struggled at times, I completed the program amazed at how much my Japanese improved (especially compared to friends who participated in other programs). Additionally, many of the Japanese roommates (as well as people in Osaka generally) don't speak much English, especially compared to Tokyo, so the environment forces you to become comfortable communicating in Japanese! CET also offers electives in a wide range of subjects (I took a history course and an international law course while there). Finally, the interview-based research project is really what you make of it. I felt like it opened a lot of doors for me and gave me an excuse to strike up a conversation with someone I might never have talked to.
LOCATION: Osaka is amazing! Loud, fun, beautiful, DELICIOUS! People are friendly, talk to you on trains, and help you when you're lost. It's fun to explore the different parts of the city, as well as get to know the neighborhood where CET is. The dialect they speak there isn't as hard to understand as some people might tell you, and people get really excited when you can use it. Also, Osaka is centrally located in Kansai so that Kobe, Nara, and Kyoto are all only a short train ride away. Great for exploring!
This program truly challenged me academically and personally. I grew exponentially as a result of choosing CET and thanks to the incredible people I met while abroad. I hope other students consider this program - while of course I cannot guarantee that you will have an experience like mine, I can attest that the CET program provides a strong foundation for all of these positive experiences.