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Housing Options

Living in a Japanese household (Homestay)

Living in a Japanese household has always been the housing option of choice for the great majority of KCJS students, and we strongly encourage the homestay option as the best way to learn about Japanese culture through daily interaction with a Japanese family, and to improve your Japanese language skills. Homestays include a private room for the KCJS student, who is provided with both breakfast and dinner. Most homestay families get high marks for their home‐cooked food. Most homestays will also have Internet access. If your homestay doesn’t have it, KCJS will provide you with a wireless access device to use at home free of charge.

KCJS homestay families vary widely in location, family composition, and their experience with foreign students, so you should be prepared to accept the particular situation of the family to whom you are assigned. It is also important that you have realistic expectations about your homestay experience. The great majority of homestay experiences work out very well, but this owes much to constant accommodation on both sides, between people from very different cultures and sometimes of contrasting personalities.

hostfamily1

Most Japanese live in small homes, hence most do not have the extra room needed for a visiting student while their children are still young. As a result, many of our host parents are in their forties, fifties, sixties, and some even older, with children who are already grown and working but who may continue to live at home. Fathers in Japanese families are often a muted presence, staying out late on business and leaving early in the morning. The typical Japanese household is held together by the mother, who usually prepares the food for the visiting student, and who provides most of the interaction with the student. In fact, a small number of homestays consist of only a single mother, with or without a child. Such families almost always work out wonderfully as homestay choices, so you need to realize that a good homestay need not always involve a vibrant family life in constant contact with two parents plus one or more children.

The one common complaint about the homestay option has nothing to do with the families themselves, but with the distance of the commute to and from school. The number of Japanese families willing to take in a foreign student is limited, so it is not possible to find enough homestay families within a short distance of the Doshisha campus. Most homestays are a 45‐60 minute commute by bicycle, bus and/or train, with some closer and some a bit farther (the longest commute may be about 90 minutes).

Every student participating in the academic year and semester programs is responsible for paying a maximum of ¥3920 per month for their own transportation expenses. If the cost is less than ¥3920, the student is only responsible for paying the actual cost. If the cost exceeds ¥3920, KCJS will cover the remainder. (NOTE: KCJS Summer Programs students are responsible for all transportation expenses.)

Feedback from alumni about Homestays

“My host family is one of the best parts of my study-abroad experience. I have built a really close relationship with them.” KCJS 28 (2016-2017)

“My family was very kind and fun to be with, and made efforts to help me with my language learning by correcting my mistakes and explaining things, as well as encouraging me to keep using Japanese.” KCJS 28 (2016-2017)

“My host family is half of the reason why my time in Japan went by so smoothly. They were welcoming and took time to actually get to know me and do things together. I fell like I’ve gained another set of parents and siblings and I would definitely recommend homestay to future students.” KCJS 28 (2016-2017)

“I felt like a part of the family. Everyone was very welcoming to me and was interested about my opinions and cultural background. It was a good experience as I had an inside look at daily life in a Japanese home.” KCJS 26 (2015-2016)

“Despite my initial concerns, living with a host family has proved to be an especially rewarding experience. My host family has been hosting students for nearly twenty years, and as a result they are incredibly understanding and considerate about my habits and attitudes. One of my favorite aspects of my home stay experience is talking to my host parents – they are always eager to share their knowledge and opinions with me, and they seem to genuinely enjoy hearing about my own culture.”

“Out of all the aspects of the program, my best experiences stemmed from my homestay experience and my time getting used to living outside of Kyoto in Shiga. My host mom was an excellent source of learning, cultural exchange and support and I honestly could not think of anyone more amazingly suited for this experience.”

“My host family was AMAZING. Our personalities were PERFECTLY matched and I truly came to care about them as a family-away-from-home….They never undermined or criticized me, and I believe we’ve established a relationship of mutual respect (in terms of living side-by-side) as well as a real rapport.”

“Living with a host family was definitely a good decision. Not only was I forced to speak in Japanese, I was able to learn a lot about another aspect of Japanese culture, the average Japanese’s daily life. Through random conversations with my host family, I was able to hear their opinions on different topics such as politics, education system, equality, etc. And because our conversations can include all different types of topics, I was able to learn a wide range of vocabularies. In addition, my host family was very interested in introducing Japanese culture to me, so I was also able to experience various typical Japanese activities.”

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Living in an apartment

KCJS leases a few small furnished apartments which have Internet connections (wireless or broadband, so bring an Ethernet card and LAN cable). The apartments are equipped with all essential furnishings, household and kitchen appliances (microwave, stove, refrigerator, TV, washing machine, bed linens, pillows, dishes, silverware, cookware etc.). You must bring or purchase your own towels. The apartments are usually not equipped with telephone lines, so you will need to rent a cell phone.

These apartments are generally located within a 20‐30 minute bicycle or bus ride to KCJS, so will involve some commuting costs. Students choosing apartments must make a special effort to get involved in Japanese society and student life, since they will not have the everyday interaction and stimulation of a host family. They work best for those who are very independent or already have considerable experience living in Japan. Apartment students participating in the academic year and semester programs will receive a daily lunch subsidy from KCJS, but must prepare their own breakfast and dinner or eat out, so the cost is usually higher than living in a homestay. (NOTE: Lunch subsidy is not applicable to KCJS Summer Programs students.)

Feedback from alumni about Apartments

“Location was excellent, all the basics were covered. Having a real kitchen rather than a single burner would have been nice, but it’s not necessary.”

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OFFICE OF GLOBAL PROGRAMS/COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY

Office of Global Programs

606 Kent Hall
Columbia University
1140 Amsterdam, Mail Code 3948
New York, NY 10027 USA
Tel: 212-854-2559
Fax: 212-854-5164
Email: ogp@columbia.edu

Kyoto Consortium for Japanese Studies 京都アメリカ大学コンソーシアム

Doshisha University, 2F Fusokan
Karasuma Higashi-iru, Imadegawa-dori
Kamigyo-ku, Kyoto 602-8580 JAPAN

602-8580
京都市上京区今出川通烏丸東入
同志社大学 扶桑館2F

Tel: 075-251-4995
Tel: (+81-75-251-4995)
Fax: 075-229-6300
Fax: (+81-75-229-6300)
Email: fs2244@columbia.edu