Here are a few points that I think are pretty important for making the most out of the time you spend abroad.
Choose to live with a host family. I think living with a host family is one of the best ways to really integrate yourself into the culture and lifestyle of another country. My host family took such great care of me during my 9 months in Japan, and I learned so much from food to language points that really helped me to get use to my new home.
Become involved in your new school/community. At Nanzan, the foreign and local students were pretty separate, so in order for me to make local friends, I had to really integrate myself into my new university. I joined the dance circle, N-Crew, my fall semester and met a lot of really cool people that I probably would not have met if I had not joined. I also recommend doing some volunteer work, such as volunteering at a local daycare/preschool or tutoring English for elementary school kids. Getting involved will really help to make your transition into getting use to your new surroundings much easier.
Find an equal balance between the language you’re studying and you’re native language. This was probably one of the most difficult points for me while I was abroad, but living with a host family really helped to balance out how much I spoke in Japanese compared to how much I spoke in English with my friends. Language study was one of the main reasons why I chose to study abroad in Japan, but with the foreign students being so close, it is very easy to fall into the habit of only speaking English and not speaking much of the language you’re studying. Be careful!
Travel! Travel around and get to know your host country. There might be some amazing things to see and do within a reasonable distance from where you are studying abroad. Also, when you study abroad, the world becomes your classroom, which gives you the chance to really experience what you are studying.
- Don’t have any regrets. This pretty much goes for anything. Studying and living in a new country might bring you way out of your comfort zone, but whether it’s trying a new kind of local dish to deciding to go to karaoke with your friends, you should try not to let anything hold you back from gaining new experiences and making good memories. The decision to go abroad to begin with was one that began a journey where everything was going to be new and different, and just because things might not be what you are use to, does not mean you shouldn’t take the chance to make the most of it.
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<p>Hi, my name is Ashley Bell and I am a Junior Political Science major at Santa Clara University. I'll be spending my spring semester in Nagoya, Japan and am very excited to share my experiences with you. I hope you enjoy seeing Japan through my eyes!</p>