Reason You Chose this Program: I went with Nanzan University primarily because it is known for its strong Japanese language program. I also wanted to go for an academic year, which IU offers through Nanzan.
Favorite Classes: Japanese Literature, Japanese Phonology
Describe the Housing Situation: Host family first semester, dorm second semester
Advice to Future Study Abroad Participants: Joining a school club is a great way to meet Japanese students, try new things, and immerse yourself in the culture and language. I can't recommend it enough! Also, I know many people who regretted only going for a semester and was so glad to have chosen the academic year.
Best Memory: Making Sukiyaki in a tent in rural Shikoku while camping out with the Mountain Climbing Club.
Experience with culture shock or reverse culture shock: When I got there I thought waiters and people in the service industry were very over-the-top and fake but when I first got back to the States my servers seemed cold and rude.
Complete this sentence: If I could do it over, I would… Have planned my finances differently; the exchange rate isn't so good right now and that constantly hung in the back of my mind.
Greatest Challenge: After the earthquake the mood became very somber and many of our classmates had to leave the program early. However, the experience led us to reaffirm our commitment to studying abroad in Japan.
Going abroad versus staying on campus, discuss: Studying the language and living the language are vastly different things. Only by going to Japan was I able to immerse myself in the language and gain a firsthand understanding of the culture.
Fact about your host country that you think people would be surprised to learn: Japanese society has an image of mass conformity, but in this generalization I think we conflate individualism with individuality. Yes, the culture places more emphasis on working together over rugged individualism, but each person has an extremely unique personality.