Study Abroad SOS | Tokyo 2020

Old Jul 24th, 2019, 06:16 PM
  #1  
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Study Abroad SOS | Tokyo 2020

I’ve been invited to co-host a study abroad program in Japan under the direction of Dr. JongHwa Lee, a South Korean transplant who is also very familiar with the Japanese terrain as his wife is from there. He began the paperwork in 2018 to have a 3 week trip to Tokyo approved/offered to students from a mid-sized university in Texas.

Now approved, I need suggestions on a travel agency/group travel experts that can assist in a trip for 15-20ish young adults (aka college students who’ll also earn credit hours for separate course work he’ll cover before the trip). Oh, and did I mention the approved time frame is during the 2020 🇯🇵Olympics. 😯

Does anyone have suggestions on who can help us navigate this opportunity? Our budget ‘collectively’ will be pretty generous. We are still fundraising and won’t know final until sign up is offered in fall, but we know supply and demand will mean we can expect to pay more than normally high Tokyo prices. Hostels are also an option we expect to consider.

TIA for suggestions!

Trippy
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Old Jul 25th, 2019, 07:56 PM
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>>Our budget ‘collectively’ will be pretty generous. <<

I have no ideas but there are a few real Tokyo experts here on Fodors who might be able to point you in the right direction. BUT just a comment -- I've been reading all sorts of articles in the last couple of weeks about the ultra high costs of accommodations next summer . . .
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Old Jul 26th, 2019, 08:27 AM
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I have posted on another forum the followings a couple of days ago.
****
> I have just read an article in Japanese that capsule hotel will cost as high as 16'000 yen, that's 3 - 4 times normal rate. There will not be much to gain, only to lose ( prices, heat and more crowd ). Let's boycott Japan travel then ;-) I'm glad I will have no need to travel there then. Sorry not helping to OP ;-)

> From a newspaper article :
Comparison on the same hotels, end of July in 2019 > same time in 2020
a "Business" hotel in Shinjuku : 11'000 > 67'000
a "Business" hotel in Ginza : 15'000 > 32'000
a "Capsule" hotel in Akasaka : 3'000 > 14'000

Funny the Ginza rate looks almost honest ( being "only" double ), compared to the others ( 4 - 6 times .... )
****
Also most reasonable ( location and quality wise ) accommodations are all blocked by the big agencies and Olympic Committee. Then many people are obliged to consider to stay 30 min - 1 hour sinkansen (bullet train) ride and commute to Tokyo to watch the games. All the Olympic volunteers coming from outside the city don't know yet where to stay except in lucky case they have family or friends in Tokyo who let them stay at their, rarely large, places. The committee seems not to finance their accommodations. Personally I don't think it is smart you have picked that particular period ( heat /humid + Olympics ) , only the headaches. Other time of the year ( ok you need to travel in summer, then next year ) will be so much easier.

Sorry being so negative and may not be helping. Hopefully some people come us with better / positive ideas.

Last edited by kappa1; Jul 26th, 2019 at 08:39 AM.
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Old Jul 26th, 2019, 11:10 AM
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"Pretty generous" is a useless description of your budget. Surely it would be better to pick another country (maybe South Korea...) or at least a city in Japan that will not be hosting Olympic events. Unless you are actually planning this trip in order to attend the Olympics, in which case you are planning rather late.
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Old Jul 26th, 2019, 05:28 PM
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The lead host is pretty insistent that we land in Tokyo. Today I (again) suggested perhaps near Tokyo but not in Tokyo, or focus on Tokyo next year and explore other less crowded choices. I intentionally didn’t mention a total budget because a) I don’t want dollar signs in other’s eyes on the budget only b) (as mentioned) we are still fundraising and have not solicited for student participation yet as we are still working on an itinerary. That said, I would hope we’ll have about $300 per person per day to spend with lunches on their own. Lee did state staying in Yokohama or Chiba instead would be acceptable. It’s a work in process. If there are other universities or educational institutes we can partner with, he would appreciate those suggestions as well. Again, TIA for your suggestions.
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Old Jul 26th, 2019, 07:30 PM
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My sons studied abroad in Japan during high school. They went to a town called Utsunomiya. They stayed with hosting families from the high school. In fact, there were so many parents vying to host, that the students had to stay at more than one house to please everyone.

So my point is, how about looking into having the students stay with host families? I realize this is college, and not high school, but ask your liason nonetheless. Maybe he has an idea how to "hook up" with families. After all, the Japanese people, I have found, are very kind to visitors.
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Old Jul 26th, 2019, 07:39 PM
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Since on my last trip to Japan, which was six comfortable weeks, my per day costs for all accommodation, food and transport averaged 175 USD, I would agree that is "pretty generous". In fact, it seems ridiculously high for a study abroad program. I am also wondering what study is going to be involved, since you appear to be working a person rather than an institution.
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Old Jul 26th, 2019, 11:13 PM
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That’s an excellent idea! Thanks, I’ll bring that up at our next meeting.
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Old Jul 27th, 2019, 01:34 AM
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# I am also wondering what study is going to be involved, ..

I am curious too. Can OP answer a bit about it ?
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Old Jul 28th, 2019, 07:41 AM
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More info on program: up to 10 undergrad, up to 10 grad, GPA of 2.5+ are general prerequisites. In spring students will do most of the “book” work including 3-6 readings on the topic of tourism and cultural communication. I’m reading A Small Place by Jamaica Kincaid now. Students usually put in more than the required hours of work/study to earn the six credit hours available. During travel students will be required to keep journals and regularly post both photos and observations on an e-book about their experiences.

Dr. Lee, focuses on theory as well as being a more conscientious tourist. Examples include focus on ecotourism, voluntourism, and he will include the topic of how some tourists take advantage of other cultures/communities by bringing bad self-entitlement behavior on their travels. I was in the tourism industry for over two decades as a DMO representative. Teaching is my second career and I’m a professor of public speaking and photography. I tend to focus on skills that will help ‘get the job’ once graduated. I think our combined styles compliment each other for the benefit of the students. I have further described our goals and university program at the beginning of this thread.

As far as $300, that is a bit high as I did not take into account airfare cost when I calculated per day cost here. However, as many have mentioned $175 may not even buy a capsule hotel room in Tokyo 2020 due to demand. My own research and comments here and on other forums have convinced me that we need to focus outside Tokyo next summer.

As always, TIA to those here to help. Likewise, if you’re just here to disrupt, I don’t think these forums were created with the intention of supporting cyber bullying rhetoric.
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Old Jul 28th, 2019, 08:00 AM
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Thanks for the information. However, sounds like a boondoggle to me, but also absolutely no reason it has to be Japan. Do people still get GPAs as low as 2.5?

And no one is "bullying" you, sheesh.
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Old Jul 28th, 2019, 09:11 AM
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I'm sorry but I don't see any bullying at all.

Re the plan -- this seems not well thought out on any level. (do you consider that bullying? -- it isn't - it is just my observation) Why does it have to be Japan? Maybe so the professor can get a free trip?? Dunno. And if it must be Japan, why does it have to be during the Olympics? Room rates and other costs will be impacted in many places - not just IN Tokyo. Many people will be staying very great distances from Tokyo and using the high speed trains to commute in. I would also think that other major tourist areas will see visitor surges due to the Olympics.
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Old Jul 28th, 2019, 09:44 AM
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Lol...oh never mind. I’ll be over at Reddit. Redditors actually read the thread and offer thoughtful and useful advice along with witty humor. Here there just seems to be (im)posters with too much time on their hands. Fan of Fodor podcast and other products, but this forum was a waste of my time.
- Later
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Old Jul 28th, 2019, 11:06 AM
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Oh, I read what you wrote. Multiple times. And the more I thought about it, the worse this set up looked.

Examples include focus on ecotourism, voluntourism, and he will include the topic of how some tourists take advantage of other cultures/communities by bringing bad self-entitlement behavior on their travels.
You're going to Japan to study voluntourism? That's Africa and Latin America, and a concept that has drawn significant criticism in recent years. (Although there do seem to be some programs, but your students wouldn't need your help to participate: https://www.gooverseas.com/volunteer-abroad/japan )

You're going to Japan to study ecotourism? You have Costa Rica on your doorstep.

You're going to Japan to study badly behaved tourists? May I suggest south east Asia as a more fruitful locale. And if you want to study the effects of excessive tourism you should be going to Venice, Dubrovnik, Macchu Picchu, etc.

Dr. JongHwa Lee's only qualification for leading this trip (since he appears to be an assistant professor of communications and mass media), according to your posts, is that his wife grew up in Japan. I grew up in England, but that in no way qualifies me to lead a study abroad tour there.

Maybe you can find more credulous readers at Reddit.
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Old Jul 28th, 2019, 12:51 PM
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It still sounds to me like a way for the professor and his wife to 'earn' a free trip. A thursdaysd points out, none of the purported 'aims' of the course would seem to be in any way relevant to Japan.
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Old Jul 28th, 2019, 12:54 PM
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To the OP, remember that we are all volunteers here. I saw no bullying or nastiness from the posters whatsoever. People were just curious what was behind this. Many of us have been posting here for years. We saw a new poster with an atypical question, not about itineraries for a three week trip, or whatever, and it seemed a bit unusual, that's all. So instead of apologizing, you made it worse. Good luck elsewhere.
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