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Even the most confident Japanese student is likely to be nervous about several aspects of life during an extended period of study in a foreign country. Health, safety, diet, housing, language and loneliness are just a few of such worries. Do such fears prove to be well-founded or is the reality often different? Do home institutions do enough to help students prepare? This presentation introduces initial findings of a long-term study into the discrepancy between students’ prime concerns prior to studying abroad, and the main issues and problems they actually encounter during their overseas experience.