Brian visits the Itsukushima Shinto Shrine, commonly known as the “floating gate”, during a weekend trip with his host family.
Overseas Study Program
Brian’s majors: International Studies and East Asian Languages and Cultures
Year abroad: Academic Year 2007–2008
Reason you chose this program: I chose it because it offered an academic year in Japan and it was cheaper than all the non-IU programs offered for the area.
Favorite classes: Japanese Foreign Policy and Japanese Politics. It was very cool.
Housing situation: I stayed in a homestay. I had a host mom, dad, and sister. I would bike to the train station and subway, then I took a half-hour train ride to the campus. It was about an hour and a half total commute.
Best memory: I went to Hiroshima and spent a few days. I saw the Peace Museam and site where the atomic bomb was dropped. I also saw Miyajima where there is the floating gate, one of the three most scenic places in Japan.
Culture shock vs. reverse culture shock: You come back and everything is the same; it’s like going back in time. You also want to talk about this amazing experience you’ve had, but it’s difficult because you can’t really share the experience. People get tired of hearing about your stories after a while.
Greatest challenge: Figuring out when I should be open about my sexuality. You have to be really careful to know when to talk about it. It can make some people nervous or upset. It was a fine line to walk and balance.
What you know now that you didn’t know before: I wish I knew time was going to go by so quickly. I thought I’d have plenty of time. I would have jumped at more opportunities so I could get more out of the experience.
Fact about Japan that you think people would be surprised to learn: The Japanese don’t eat sushi every day. It’s mostly just on special occasions.