October 17, 2007 11:07 AM

ICU Japan Questions

The Study Abroad Office asked me to answer some questions for Cal guy interested...so here are my answers just in case you were interested.

1. How intense was the school's Japanese language program?
2. How effective was it? (were you able to speak at the native level by
the time you returned home? Could you read books, watch tv, etc. How
proficient did you become in Japanese?
3. What level of Japanese did you take at UC Berkeley before studying

I'm currently a Junior (Molecular Toxicology
Major) studying at ICU for the year. The Japanese Language Program (JLP)
can be quite intensive. There's a required summer program that is about
3.5 hrs a day 5 days a week. It was fast but doable. It's the "normal" JLP
classes squeezed into 7 weeks. During the normal year, there's a "normal"
JLP class (12 hours/week) and an "intensive" JLP class. Intensive is..
really intensive at 4 sessions of 70 min classes a day 5 days a week (23
hours). It's basically 2 levels of "normal" JLP classes squeezed into one
semester. It's recommended that you do not take any additional classes
aside from that. I think that one class on top of that is doable. ;) I'm
taking Intensive right now.
2&3. I've been in Japan for 3.5 months now. I entered with basically no
knowledge of Japanese. I had not taken Japanese at Berkeley. The last time
I touched Japanese was in sophomore year of high school where I took one
years worth of Japanese at the community college. Living in the school

dorm, I can say that my Japanese has improved alot. I can converse all
right with the people in my dorm. If I want to talk about deeper things, I
need to use my electronic dictionary for specific words. As a science
major you can probably guess that I'm not favorably inclined towards
language learning. It's been good here though. Today, I picked up a middle
schooler comic book and I was able to read it! haha. I surprised myself at
my immense improvement. (Sure I wouldn't be able to translate everything
accurately, but it was enough to get what the people were saying and I
felt comfortable handling the language.) The thing with T.V. is that
there's alot of vocab that I don't know. I catch way more than I used to,
but there's still alot to go.
When you enter, you get put through a placement exam. It's quite
surprising where the levels pan out. In my Intensive 2 class, we have
people who have 1 year of Japanese (that would be me), 2 years, and 3
years. Most people in my level are after 2 years of Japanese. In some of
the upper classes, there are people who are there after 1 year of
Japanese! It really depends on your own level and how hard you worked
before you came.

And if you read this far: I've noticed that most people from the UC system
(I'm the only one from Berkeley at ICU) at ICU aren't actually Japanese
majors. We're here because ICU has a ton (compared to the other schools)
of classes offered in English. Also, the Japan UC center office for all
the UC students in Japan is located at ICU so that's a huge convenience. I
know the UCB student at ICU from 2 years ago was a Japanese major though.
She was taking classes in Japanese by her last quarter.

For life and otherwise, check out my Berkeley blog about life here:

Hope you're enjoying Berkeley,
~Kristin Lee


Dear Kristin,

I have a potential EAP applicant who has expressed interest in your
universities and has a few questions that I feel would best be answered
by students who are on the program. Would you please take a few minutes
to respond to his questions below?

I hope you are enjoying your time abroad and thank you for your help.


Joshua Dullaghan
Education Abroad Program Advisor:
China, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore,
Taiwan, Thailand
Berkeley Programs for Study Abroad
University of California, Berkeley
160 Stephens Hall #2302
Berkeley, CA 94720-1302
(510) 642-1356

K. Lee | Permalink | Comment on this article | Comments (2)

Comments (2)

Hi Kristen! I was looking at classes to take for this summer, and somehow ended up at this post. Your experience sounds sososososo wonderful, and I it'd be so great if I could just talk to you a little. I'll leave my contact info here, but I'll try to find yours on this site: katarina.makmuri@gmail.com

Posted by Katarina | 2009-02-02

and I just spelled your name wrong. sorry! D:

Posted by | 2009-02-02

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