IES Abroad Field Trips

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Macks Koontz
April 9, 2023

Throughout the semester, IES Abroad has taken us on many field trips, and they have all been super fun! Since I’ve been on all of the trips that have been planned, I wanted to share pictures from them and also give a summary/what to expect on the trips!

In the beginning, we received a booklet that had all the dates for the events/field trips we were going to do, and about a week or two before the event we received an itinerary of what to expect in the mail. It usually provides the time we will meet and the location, then the approximate times that everything will happen. At the actual event, you will meet at the designated time/location and then they will pay for pretty much everything aside from lunch (even transportation). Honestly everytime we go on a trip, I realize why tuition is so expensive because I feel like I’m living a life of luxury. The hotels they reserve for us are incredibly fancy. Especially coming from a low income family in rural Appalachia, I feel like I’m getting royalty treatment.

To start from the beginning: after we arrived in Japan, we met at Chubu International Airport. From there we stayed in a hotel, then the next day we were shown around town and went to another hotel. During that time, we had some classes to prepare for the beginning of the semester as well as a small orientation about Japan. The rest of the time we were free to do whatever we liked. IES gave us tickets for Inuyama Castle and the surrounding museums, and it was incredibly beautiful! I got to speak to a lot of the locals, and they were very nice. I was so surprised when I initially came because we had so much freedom- I don’t know why I thought that we would be restricted to where we went or something, but we got to roam all around. We also didn’t have to go to the castle altogether, which I was a bit confused by. None of the staff went with us either, we kind of just split up into groups based on who we had befriended thus far and explored around which was very, very cool! We basically just got to do whatever and then met up at the hotel for dinner at 5 or so because it was catered by the hotel.

The next event was not a trip, but a Taiko concert, which was very nice. We had to pay for the subway there, but they paid for the tickets. The show was amazing and all of the drummers were very talented!

The next trip was to Nara: this was a nice 3-day trip! I loved seeing all of the deer. They paid for the transportation there and they also paid for us to go on guided English tours all around the area, and they were a bit exhausting, but very informative. I’m not particularly fond of tours, but it was still very cool! I learned a lot. If you are interested in the history and cultural aspects of Japan, a lot of the trips you would probably enjoy a lot. We explored so many places within Nara in such detail. Plus (once again), the hotel was very fancy. I can’t get over the food- they had breakfast and dinner catered in the hotels and it was always so delicious. The first one in Inuyama had like 8 course meals for dinner.

The next event was Bonnie & Clyde the Musical (once again, the tickets were paid for): When I saw that we were going to a musical, my theater kid brain got so excited. I haven’t done theater in so long, and the musical made me miss it so much. It was performed by all women, and they were all so incredibly, incredibly talented. Although all of it was in Japanese and I couldn’t understand a lot of it, I was in awe about how good it was. I definitely understood what was going on despite the language barrier. Also, the set was so well done and complex. I honestly have no idea how they fit so many things backstage, it must have been huge. Plus, the costumes were top tier. I’ve noticed that a lot of times in theatrical productions if the budget is high, the quality of the acting goes well, but this was definitely not one of those occasions. I enjoyed it a lot.

The trip before the last was to Hiroshima, Miyajima, and Himeji (another 3-day trip). I think this trip would have to be my favorite trip that we went on. They paid for our tickets on the Shinkansen this time (once again, feeling like royalty). We were also given a paid for day-pass for transportation. Itsukushima (in Miyajima) shrine was one of the most beautiful places I have been to in Japan. As always, our tickets were paid for as well. There was so much to do and although we had lots of time, I still didn’t get to do everything I wanted to unfortunately. We went to a very peaceful garden in Hiroshima, which was also one of my favorite things we did on that trip. We were given tickets for an audio-guided tour of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum. It was sad, but it was important for it to be. Himeji Castle was very pretty, and there was also a small zoo that me and some of my friends briefly went to next to it.

Iga: This was sadly our last trip, and only a day-trip, but so much fun! They paid for our transportation there. We saw a castle, a ninja show, a tour of ninja houses, and we had a class where we got to braid rope (you could make a bracelet or a keychain– I made a keychain)!

It’s so bittersweet to look back on these memories, and I know they are things I’m never going to forget. I’ve had a lot of people ask me about studying abroad and whether or not I would suggest going through IES Abroad or not. Every time I get asked, one of the main things I talk about is these trips. I honestly think that if I came to Japan without IES Abroad, I would not have explored and learned nearly as much as I have. Plus, there is already kind of a built-in support system. Not only with the staff, but especially with the other students. You already have that starting off point of having friends (or at least acquaintances), and that has helped me so much. It has made my experience in Japan like a million times better. Although it is a lot of money, and the process can be pretty difficult, I 100% think it’s worth it.

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Macks Koontz

Hello! My name is Macks and I'm a sophomore at the University of Tennessee majoring in Child and Family Studies with a minor in Japanese. I love learning, hiking, reading, and playing the guitar/ukulele. Studying abroad is super important to me and I am so very excited to be able to share my journey with other people :)

2023 Spring
Home University:
University of Tennessee - Knoxville
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