Student Commentary

Japan Study Abroad – A Once-in-a-Lifetime Experience

My semester at Temple University Law School’s Japan campus was by far the best experience I had during my time in law school. TUJ’s study abroad program provided me with unique access to an extraordinary city, internship opportunities and courses taught by locally-practicing attorneys, and lifelong friendships.

Tokyo is an incredibly beautiful and accessible city (walkable with an extremely efficient metro system). On weekends I explored different areas of the city which had a seemingly unending assortment of entertainment, cuisine, views, and cultural landmarks. During spring break, I flew with a classmate to Niseko, Hokkaido, where we spent the week skiing before exploring the famous seafood scene in Sapporo. I cannot overemphasize how friendly and helpful the locals were during my stay. The owner of my hostel in Niseko even gave me a hand-written thank you letter the day I moved out!

The staff at TUJ clearly cared about each student participating in the spring program. From the day I began my initial application last July through the end of my semester in Japan and afterward, the staff were very responsive to my questions, checking in on me from time to time to see how I was doing and whether I needed help with anything. They provided useful resources and advice, recommended a variety of attractions to visit, and planned several events for the students.

Courses offered at TUJ this spring included East/West Negotiations, Introduction to Japanese Law, and varying levels of Japanese language courses which would not have been available to me in the U.S. In East/West Negotiations, I learned about the philosophies underlying traditional Japanese negotiation strategies contrasted with those in the U.S., as well as the broader cultural differences of both societies. Introduction to Japanese Law provided a glimpse into the complex Japanese legal system and the practical aspects of working as a Japanese prosecutor or defense attorney. The course also included an opportunity to tour the Supreme Court of Japan and Fuchu Prison, in addition to attending a criminal trial. I strongly recommend to anyone participating in the TUJ semester abroad program to take advantage of these opportunities.

Because most spring semester courses were held in the evenings, I was able to intern at a Japanese law firm. The projects on which I assisted during my internship included researching and preparing an overview of Japanese civil procedure for potential foreign clients, reviewing outgoing English correspondence, and researching SEC disclosure requirements. The attorneys at my internship were incredibly patient and supportive, and willing to answer any questions I had about the law even if unrelated to my assignments. The internship also allowed me to significantly improve my Japanese legal vocabulary and communication skills.

I will never forget this once-in-a-lifetime experience, and I encourage others to participate in the TUJ semester abroad program.

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