Summer Abroad Japan - On Site

UC Davis Study Abroad, Summer Abroad Japan, Life Sciences Program, Header Image, Onsite Page

Life Sciences in Japan


The program is hosted by Ritsumeikan University Biwako-Kusatsu Campus (BKC) in the city of Kusatsu, Shiga Prefecture (adjacent to Kyoto). There is a local bus from campus to the Minami-Kusatsu train station; then, it’s a 20 minute train ride to the JR Kyoto Station. Hence, students may visit Kyoto often to explore this wonderful city. Also, Kyoto Station is a major transportation hub for the Shinkansen (bullet train) and other lines, a convenient point to explore other destinations such as Osaka.

Students will be residing in the International Dormitory at BKC. Students will have access to a lounge, internet, and laundry room. The dormitory is a 10 minute walk to the campus and the classrooms. There are several cafeterias and food trucks on campus where students can purchase affordable meals. Some meals will be provided by the program during select program events and field trips. Please see the Fees and Expenses page for more information regarding estimated fund that student should budget for daily meals.

NOTE ON ALCOHOL: The dormitory does not allow consumption of alcohol under any circumstances. Breaching this rule greatly compromises UC Davis’ relationship with the host university and jeopardizes our ability to continue the program. If you are appreciative of this opportunity to live and study on a Japanese campus (instead of being in Japan only as a tourist), then please help us to provide this opportunity for future students: do not drink alcohol in the dorm. Failure to adhere to this rule will result in being immediately dismissed from the program.


Students will attend class on the Ritsumeikan University Biwako campus which is near the international dormitory.

Excursions and Day Trips

  • Tour some of Kyoto’s most famous & beautiful historical sites.
  • Trips to the Osaka Aquarium, Nara and Uji.
  • Enjoy traditional Japanese food for lunches (on selected trips).
  • Optional excursions (TBA) to local places of interest.

Please see the syllabus on the Academic page for the tentative schedule of program activities and excursions. Activities and schedule are subject to change at the discretion of the program.

Study Abroad Advisory of Student Risk

Participation in this UC Davis Study Abroad program requires travel to and extended living in a foreign location(s) abroad. UC Davis Study Abroad endeavors to reduce and mitigate risk wherever possible.  However, the environments and risks associated with living in these locations are substantially different than those found during a regular course of study at UC Davis. All participants must download and review the following information prior to departure. Any questions should be directed to the Program Coordinator.

Study Abroad General Risk Advisory

Program Specific Risk Advisories (PDF)

About Japan

Lonely Planet Japan:

"Japan is richly endowed with natural beauty of mountains, trees, rivers, lakes and seas. It is also known as one of the most developed countries in the world for its industries, cutting edge technology, modern fashion, and entertainment and animation. At the same time, Japan is a treasury of traditional culture, architecture, arts, with 11 World Heritage sites. Food is one of the great pleasures of traveling in Japan: from its own culinary history as well as making international cuisines distinctly their own. Japan is a very safe country to visit and for ease of travel with advanced international telecommunication, and an extensive transportation network. When you are seeking for information in a town, you will find little difficulty finding someone to help you in English. Some people may not be fluent, or may be shy at first, but you will soon notice people’s friendliness and willingness to communicate." - Edited from an article from JNTO, Why Visit Japan?


Language Spoken: Japanese

Weather and Climate

In June and July, on average, lows will be in the low 70s and highs will be in the 80s.

Research Your Destination

Keeping in Touch

Since communication options can vary dramatically from country to country, Summer Abroad advises checking with the instructor or the Program Specific Guide for advice about what might be the best option for your particular program.

Calling the U.S. from Abroad

Many U.S.-based long distance phone companies provide special services that make it easy for you to phone home from abroad. Some provide toll-free access numbers that connect with an operator in the U.S. Some provide the means to charge long distance calls to a credit card or to a third party. Some provide better long distance rates. Others provide access to emergency, medical, legal, translation, and entertainment information. Students are encouraged to investigate these options before departure and to shop for the best services and rates.

Global Cell Phones

Most cell phone companies can sell you a special global cell phone with the option to add more minutes as needed. Also, most cell phone companies can unlock your cell phone for global use, but this requires a trip to a provider at your destination who will give you a SIM card and sell you minutes. Check with your cell phone provider for more information. Global cell phones are also available through travel agencies and online. Be sure to check the policies for both incoming and outgoing calls and text messages.

Cell Phone Rental

Some students choose to rent a cell phone that works at their destination. Some companies will ship the phone directly to the student in advance of the program dates—and include a packet for sending the phone back when they return. Interested students can locate service providers via the Internet.

Phone Cards

Many travel agencies and specific phone providers carry great options for phone cards. Check the rates available from your long distance provider. You can often buy phone cards on site.


Skype is a computer program that you can download for free that allows you to talk (for free) on the phone over the Internet with anyone else who has Skype. Go to to download the program. For an extra fee (as low as .02 cents/minute) you can enable your Skype to call land lines instead of just other computers. You will need a microphone and headset so that you can talk to the person on the other line. Skype also includes a chat option for instant messaging.

Instant Messaging Systems

Instant messaging systems are also a great free way to communicate with people back in the states. There are numerous options for messaging systems from AOL Instant Messenger to Yahoo Messenger. Just about every messaging program can be downloaded for free online.

Internet Access

Computer and internet access varies by program. Information for your site will be listed in your Program Specific Guide.

Internet access is offered in all the countries we go to, but the reliability of it differs from program to program. Internet can be accessed through internet cafes. Some programs also offer access through the dorms or on-campus computer labs. Internet cafes are very reasonably priced and often times have various instant messaging programs installed and headphones available to chat with loved ones. Relying on internet cafes may reduce worry of bringing your own laptop with you. You can upload pictures at most internet cafes, but remember due to the speed of some connections, it may be a better idea just to bring multiple memory cards to avoid spending your whole day on the computer.

Cultural Learning

Living in a new culture can be exhilarating, rewarding, and stimulating. It can also be frustrating. It is one thing to tour a country, but it is quite another to live and function according to different norms. It is important to be open toward a new culture, to try to discard stereotypes, and to learn as much as possible about the culture before departure. If you educate yourself about the country you will be visiting, you will better understand and appreciate your new surroundings!

Even with preparation it is likely that you will experience "culture shock." Recent studies show that there are distinct stages of culture shock. Some of these stages include: awareness of the host culture and preparation, initial euphoria and excitement, irritability phase during acclimation, gradual adjustment, and adaptation to culture. Upon return to the United States, many students face "reverse culture shock."

There are some things you can do to minimize your cultural adjustment. Keep a sense of humor! Treat yourself to an occasional U.S. indulgence like a favorite food, or purchase a U.S. magazine or newspaper. Avoid other Americans who are overly negative or who complain a lot. Keep healthy. Above all, don't be afraid to try new activities!

Resources for Further Study

Ethical Considerations in Study Abroad