My Time Abroad in Japan

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CIEE Kyoto

Authored by Luigi Medel 


Greetings, my name is Luigi Medel and I have just returned from a semester abroad in Japan and have been granted the opportunity to write about my time there. Thanks to CIEE and my home university, I was allowed to explore Japan and live there for around 4 months in the immaculate city of Kyoto. Which resulted in an experience that I can label as nothing less than life-changing. 

Luigi 1

In these 4 months, I have spent in Japan I could label it many things, a dream come true, a challenging yet rewarding adventure, a memory that I’ll never forget, but I think when It comes to treasuring such important moments in one’s life I think it’s important to keep it simple. 

              I’d like to preface this blog post that before this opportunity I had never left the North American continent and rarely traveled around. Yet upon landing in Japan on January 1st, It all immediately felt like living in a dream. I was suddenly shifted from my hometown airport to that of Kansai International Airport (KIX). Soon finding myself in the heart of Kyoto, accommodated by classmates with similar positions of wonder and optimism that were being shrouded in this confusion that comes upon landing in a country across the world from your own. Back then I had no idea these same classmates would become so of the closest friendships I have ever forged. Which is an experience I believe all should be blessed with. 

luigi Nara


Thanks to the beauty and safety of Japan and CIEE’s administrative prowess, my cohort and I felt little hesitation to go out and explore this vast country we had found ourselves in. Whether it was the bustling city of Osaka, the Deer-filled parks of Nara, Kyoto’s numerous temples and shrines, the conglomerate urban center that is Tokyo, with its numerous areas of note such as Shinjuku, Shibuya, Asakusa, etc. These cities and many, many more. Greeted us with open arms, granting us access to stellar entertainment such as karaoke, clubs, etc. To restaurants with food that was out of this world. Some of my favorites were the Shrimp Ramen I ate up north in Hokkaido, or the delicious Wagyu Burgers I feasted on in Okinawa. Last but not least, the beautiful religious structures that dawned on the Japanese landscapes felt like being placed in a land of myth. From Fushimi Inari’s endless Torii Gates, Kinkaku-ji’s glistening gold, and Kiyomizu Dera’s wooden platform granting one a beautiful view of the Kyoto cityscape. 

Luigi ramen


Finally, I wanna end this blog with an appreciation for the people I met and CIEE’s role in all of it. I can’t quite give CIEE’s role in this trip enough justice with words alone. From the friendliest staff members being there for casual conversation, advice on how to navigate the city, or any other plight that may be on your mind, they handled it perfectly. To their organization of all sorts of events and excursions, large or small. From game and movie nights that were great for getting the entire cohort together and bonding on a casual school night. To overnight excursions into cities such as Ise, where we stayed in a beautiful hotel where a hot spring was located. Which we all rushed to upon unpacking. These types of excursions are only a few of the numerous excursions that CIEE set up in my 4 months in Kyoto. 

Luiji Akashi

As for the people I met, they were all great people filled with amazing character. The people who made up my cohort were all extremely welcoming and willing to get along with me. Our journeys and adventures we went on were the cornerstone of my trip. From my flights to Okinawa and Hokkaido to those overnight ventures into Osaka. None of these unforgettable experiences would be possible without the amazing cohort I was blessed to have. 

That about wraps up what I have to say about my 4 months in Kyoto. I could always ramble more but I feel like I’ve given the program proper justice and explained how and why it’s been such a life-changing experience for me. I hope nothing but the best for those who’ve made it this far into the blog! 

Take Care!