Why did you choose this program? I had been studying Japanese at IU for several years and decided that one of the best ways to further progress would be to study abroad in Japan. Going to Nagoya allowed me an opportunity to be completely immersed in using Japanese in my daily life, as well as experience the culture. Also, since I have career aspirations to work in Japan at some point, getting to live in Nagoya for two semesters was invaluable to getting used to the lifestyle of living there.

Describe your favorite class(es) abroad.  My favorite class I took while in Japan would maybe be Shodo, the Japanese calligraphy class. At Nanzan they offered various different kinds of cultural classes that teach you a little piece of the local history and art. I also took a Japanese tea ceremony class, which was great fun getting to prepare matcha tea and try numerous wagashi.

What was the housing like on your study abroad program?  I stayed in a dorm for international students called Yamazato Koryu Kaikan (abbreviated as YKK). The dorm was not only international students, as there were Japanese students there to help us adjust to life in Japan, but it was a great opportunity to meet students from all over the globe. While I was at YKK, I met people from France, China, Sweden, Hong Kong, Korea, and many other places. Each resident gets their own room, a personal bathroom including a toilet, sink, and cabinet. There are showers and bathtubs on each floor that is shared by the community. There is also a community room downstairs with a TV, various videogame consoles, plenty of za's, dining tables, and a kitchen.

What advice would you like to give to future study abroad students?  I would say that students coming should be prepared and excited to try new things. One of the most rewarding things for me was getting to explore Japan both independently and with the new friends I made at the program. In general, make sure you don’t get in a rut and forget to take advantage of your time spent there. So make sure to travel across the country, try new foods, and do your best to immerse yourself. Also, take advantage of the fact you are surrounded by Japanese language to really make an effort to practice and use your Japanese. You can leave Nagoya feeling 100% more confident in your Japanese ability if you let yourself work through the mistakes and adjust to your surroundings.

What’s your best memory from your time abroad?  I have a ton of great memories from my time in Japan, and looking back on a lot of what was even part of my daily lifestyle has become pretty nostalgic. But overall, I would say my best memories from my time abroad would come from my time travelling around Japan with my friends I made at Nanzan. It was a great adventure traversing the rail systems and exploring so many new things I had never encountered before. Japan is also such a safe country that I never felt intimidated or unsafe, even if I were looking for my hostel in some strange part of Tokyo at midnight. I would also say that one particular part of Nagoya that stands out to me in memory is all of the Matsuri. Matsuri are like traditional festivals, and they are great fun to witness. There were often lanterns illuminating the night, food stands with all sorts of great stuff, big wagons being pushed through the street, and people playing flutes, banging drums and chanting. I would highly suggest making an effort to go off campus and see all of these parts of the local culture.

What was your biggest surprise about the location, culture or other aspects of your program?  My biggest surprise was probably the respectfulness and responsibility society in Japan exercises. Unless you are in a night life area or a heavily tourist populated area, you will never see litter or trash on the ground. Everyone is very polite and considerate of their surroundings, which is very nice. The trains also get extremely crowded during rush hour (particularly in cities like Tokyo, but Nagoya also gets very packed) which also took me by surprise.

Describe your experience with culture shock or reverse culture shock.  Culture shock in Japan wasn’t very noticeable for me, especially at first, but I think one minor effect that I started noticing was me getting a bit jaded at some of the societal differences in mannerisms and conduct. For example, things like not eating or drinking while walking outside were a little hard to get used to coming from America. But the nice thing is the locals are very forgiving and will usually not judge international students if they make mistakes like that, so don’t stress it too much. Funnily enough, reverse culture shock ended up materializing in that exact phenomenon, but opposite. Upon returning to America, I was often surprised at people’s conduct such as talking on speaker phone in public, playing music out loud, or just generally not being as conscious of these sort of rules that are common in Japan.

“If I could do it over, I would…”
I would probably try to do things that take me more out of my comfort zone. I was able to experience a lot of new things, but it took some time for me to get comfortable with my surroundings.

What do you know now that you didn’t know before you went abroad?
That Japanese food is really good! Before I went abroad, it turns out I had barely scratched the surface of Japanese food beyond sushi and ramen.

What do you wish someone had told you before you left?  Speaking Japanese will be super intimidating at first. Like, it will feel kind of scary just ordering food at a small ramen shop, even though that is probably one of the more simple interactions you can have. But people there were extremely helpful and non-judgmental, so you shouldn’t be scared to put yourself out there and walk into restaurants or introduce yourself to your Japanese classmates.

What was your greatest challenge?  All of the Kanji that I didn’t know yet. One thing you will notice is that your Kanji reading ability will go up tremendously, thanks to the fact that it’s written and used everywhere in Japan. So make sure you have a good translating app.

Discuss: “Going abroad vs. staying on campus.”
It depends on your motivation for being on campus, but if it’s to learn Japanese then going abroad will do you an immense favor. I probably improved my Japanese speaking ability in one semester more than I did in most of my time spent taking classes back home.

What fact about your host country do you think people would be surprised to learn?  Depending on how much geographical research you do, you may be surprised to learn that Nagoya is 30 minutes away (by shinkansen) from Kyoto, 1 hour away from Osaka, and 2 hours away from Tokyo. So a very convenient place to get to four of the most popular cities in Japan.

How did you find scholarships for study abroad?
On the OVST website there were a number of good options to choose from.

Would you recommend other students to pursue any specific scholarship opportunities?
My scholarship eligibility was scarce, but the Hutton scholarship is a good one to look into.