Study Abroad: Preparations

Map of Hikone

I felt like I was back in high school filling out college applications when I was applying for study abroad. I had to fill out seemingly endless paperwork, write essays, and get recommendations, but it was all worth it when I received that prized email saying I was accepted.

During the fall semester this year, September to December, I will be studying at the Japan Center for Michigan Universities. JCMU is affiliated with the major universities in Michigan including Central Michigan University. The university is located in a small, rural castle town called Hikone in the Shiga prefecture.  I will be studying the Japanese language as well taking an elective about some area of Japanese culture. Even before I found out if I was going for sure or not I was researching everything I could about Japan and Hikone.

Every time I tell someone I’m going to study abroad in Japan (and I tell EVERYONE) the first question out of their mouths is “Why Japan?” I don’t know a word of Japanese other than the few phrases I have been trying to teach myself in preparation. It’s not that I don’t want to travel to other places, I want to travel all around the world, but Japan is just so different from my own culture and I wanted to get as much from this opportunity as I could. I was afraid that if I went to some place in Europe I would want to spend all my time traveling and seeing all the different countries that I would lose focus on immersing myself into the culture and just experiencing the day to day life that so many people take for granted.

Japan Center for Michigan Universities (street view)

 

 

 

 

Now I am beginning my preparations. This is includes many information sessions, scouring the internet for the plane tickets (which will end up costing more than a semesters rent), applying for every scholarship available, learning key phrases and cultural differences, and figuring out how I am not going to over pack.

I know that I am suppose to say that I hope to become a better person or become fluent in Japanese or have a life altering experience as a result of studying abroad. Honestly though, I just want to have a great adventure, have fun, and step out of my comfort zone. Obviously I hope all that other stuff happens too but I just want an experience that will keep my love of traveling and learning going strong.

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One thought on “Study Abroad: Preparations

  1. I’m surprised to stumble upon such a post as I am in Michigan and plan on transferring to CMU this Spring for Elementary Education. I also spend two months in Japan last year, which was a wonderful experience for me. I think the biggest discomfort you’ll experience is simply not being able to communicate with everyone. The further you go out of the cities, the less people you’ll find that understands any English. I think you’ll also be surprised at some of the commodities that Japan offers as well. I was personally shocked to discover that Starbucks is in Japan, and their menu is of a much higher quality!

    That’s enough ranting for now, take care and have fun.

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