I’ve made it back to the States! I am exhausted from traveling, but I’m glad I made it back safely. I’d like to talk about my time in Japan—what I liked, what I didn’t like, what advice I have, etc.
Although I mentioned this before, I will say it again—I liked Japan. There was so much to learn, to explore, and to experience, that I didn’t really feel homesick in the first two months. However, after a while, I think I really missed the academic rigor from my home institution. My classes weren’t as challenging, and the workload was the lightest I’ve had since high school. I did, however, take advantage of that; I spent a lot of my free time doing things I enjoyed such as playing video games, shopping, and walking around. I might have also lucked out because I heard Japanese 3 at Nanzan has a heavier workload than Japanese 2.
I really enjoyed my semester because it was a nice break from my lifestyle at my home institution. I remember once saying, “Wow! I am actually enjoying a relaxed semester in college!”
While I had positive experiences at the doctor, I didn’t like that I was dependent on others to help me translate or understand how to go to the specialist I needed. It felt burdensome to ask my roommate to go with me because she was pretty occupied as a rising senior. When I fell really ill during Golden week earlier this month, I was lost and scared because everything closes. I had no idea where to go and who I could ask for help. It was an experience I would rather not repeat.
Also, due to the difference in academic year, Japanese students were only on campus for a few weeks. This made it difficult to get involved in a club because they weren’t active during most of the semester. Consequently, this also made getting to know Japanese students challenging. Getting to know them was already heavily dependent on you actively seeking out conversations with them. Although CJS has a three language centers for this, it was still difficult to feel integrated in college life. This is due to the language barrier, the Japanese academic year, and differences in American and Japanese college lifestyles. It is not impossible to make Japanese friends, but it is challenging.
One piece of advice that I cannot emphasize enough is to PACK LIGHT. The less you bring, the more you can fit in your bags when you’re returning. There will be many trinkets and gifts you'll want to purchase and carry home.
Also, I definitely recommend looking up the garbage sorting system before you arrive. It will save you some confusion and time. For the placement exam, I recommend studying kanji because you do need to know a certain amount to advance to the next level. Finally, I highly suggest that before you purchase any books for class that you check out Nanzan's library in case they have them in stock!
If you decide to do the IES Abroad Nagoya program, I suggest you go to Japan with an open mind—attempt new things, push yourself to learn more about yourself and what you want from a study abroad experience.
Next time I'll be sharing photos that I took throughout my semester as my final post.
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<p>I like rainy days. Once I saw a triple rainbow. I'm just a female Latinx low-income student studying abroad in Japan, learning to navigate an environment completely different from home. Let's get this パン.</p>