Study Abroad: Preparations
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.
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.