As someone who grew up exposed to multiple cultures, diversity has always been very important to me. I've studied Chinese off and on throughout my childhood, because my parents felt it was important for me to be aware of my Asian heritage. When I started officially studying languages in middle school, however, I realized that what I wanted wasn't just to read and speak and write other languages besides English; I wanted to experience the culture as well. I've gone on to study Japanese in college, and with my focus on translation, studying abroad became not just a dream, but a practical reality for my education.
I'll be participating in the IES Abroad-sponsored Direct Enrollment program at Nanzan University in Nagoya, Japan this fall. While I'm there, I plan to continue my Japanese language education, as well as taking some cultural courses, such as the Tea Ceremony class, and some more writing and translation-based courses. In terms of housing, both dorm and homestay options are available. I'm hoping for a homestay, but I won't know for certain until I receive my housing information. Regardless, I'm sure I'll have an enlightening experience, fully immersed in the culture.
In terms of excursions, there are three field trips planned for the fall: two-day trips to Kyoto, Kanazawa, and Takayama and Shirakawa. I've been to Kyoto once before and loved it; the other two will be brand new to me. I'm looking forward to all of them!
I'm paying for my study abroad experience in a combination of ways. I've received scholarships and stipends from a variety of sources, including the Freeman-ASIA Award, the Bridging Scholarship, as well as the Diversity Abroad Blogging Stipend and anonymous donations, and I'm receiving financial aid from my home university (Knox College) and from IES Abroad. I've also been working throughout college and during term breaks in order to save money to go abroad. My family is helping me pay for some of it, but whatever is left will be paid for by student loans.
I'll get back to you on that once I've gone abroad and come back.
I don't know yet whether I will experience any of these, but if I do, I hope the experience will help me grow as a person in a positive manner, and help me become a better person.
I'm hoping that studying abroad will aid me in my translation studies, as well as expand my cultural understandings of the world and open my eyes to the diversity in Japan that I wasn't aware of before.
I'm guessing it will have something to do with food, but I'll get back to you on that.
We'll see. I tend to be up late for one reason or another, so I suppose I'll find out.
My plan is for my study abroad experience to improve my Japanese and make connections (personal and professional) with the people I meet while in Nagoya. When I return, I'll be able to better extrapolate on this question.
I hope to recommend this program; I'll let you know in December.
Plan ahead and keep your options open. It's okay to change your mind, but if you're dead set on going somewhere, find a way to make that happen. The hardest things for me were finding the money and keeping morale high when my decisions were met with opposition.