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Why did you decide to study abroad?

Because I wanted to improve my speaking and listening ability in Japanese, as well as observe how Japanese people functioned in daily life. I was also highly interested in researching how the Buddhist and Shinto religions affected and shaped Japanese life into what it is today.

Tell us about the program you went on

The program was called "Mishima Study Abroad" from Stony Brook University in New York. The program is designed by professor Eva Nagase where we spend a month during the summer at a host family's house and study Japanese language and culture at the Japan University's international relationships campus in Mishima, Shizuoka, Japan. Besides the classroom experience which is aided by native teaching assistants of the hosting university, the program offers daily excursions to different cultural sites or clubs. We also get the chance to go on a weekend trip to Kyoto and Nara where we visit a variety of temples and Shrines.

How did you pay for your study abroad experience?

Pell grants paid for most of my program costs along with a subsidized loan and the money I had saved from work. The program cost including housing, flight, tuition and other costs was around $5,000 with another $1,200 spent in souvenirs and food outside of that provided by the host family. It was really worth it! 

What is one thing you wish you would have known about studying abroad before you left?

How to deal with the jet lag coming back from Japan.

Did you experience any discrimination abroad because of your race, sex, religion, sexual orientation or a physical disability? If so, what did you learn from the experience?

No, on the contrary, I was welcomed so warmly and treated like a celebrity.

How has studying abroad benefited you, personally and academically?

My Japanese ability improved tremendously and I was able to gain another family on the other side of the world.

What was the most memorable moment of studying abroad?

Spending time with my 4 host siblings and my host parent, specially attending their karate class and being praised for showing them my skills in TaeKwonDo. 

How was the entertainment and nightlife?

I had a great time at the arcades and Karaoke as well as the anime/manga shops we visited. I spent most of my nights at home with my host family, binding with the and sharing time with them.

In what way do you feel your experience abroad has prepared you for your future career? (Think both tangible things like language acquisition and intangible like learning to work with people who are very different from you)

Definitely acquiring a higher proficiency in Japanese as well as learning how to understand a culture that is so different from ours and learn to function within it.

Would you recommend the program you went on, if so why??

YES! It was an amazing experience, i met so many great friends and I was placed in a host family that was amazing and really treated me like one of their kids. They even offered me to come stay with them anytime I wanted. For your language skills, complete immersion is the best thing and this program definitely gives you the chance to do that.

What advice do you have for students thinking about study abroad?

Go for it! Don't be afraid of applying because of money because there will always be a way. As for being away from home, the feeling goes away in about a week.

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