1. Why did you choose this particular location to study abroad?
I chose this location to study abroad because I wanted to somewhere where the culture is drastically different from the U.S. We tend to value individual accomplishments and rights while Japan has a very collective mentality woven into their social environment. I thought it would be interesting to look at the world from a different perspective. It helps that I was already interested in the Japanese language before finding out that this GO trip was offered.
2. What was the most meaningful interaction you have had with a local?
The most meaningful interaction I had with a local would have to be when I traveled outside a Nagoya and a man (who kindly asked me to refer to him as Ken-chan, which is extremely informal, and not a common way to refer to a stranger) allowed me to stay in his home for the night and made sure I was fed and well taken care of despite the language barrier. Kindness and compassion have no language I suppose.
3. Have you had the opportunity to explore your city? Where have you ventured, and why did you select those places?
I went outside of Nagoya because I had a Japanese friend that lived there that wanted me to come visit before she went back to New Zealand to continue studying English. It was a very last minute thing and I knew nothing of Nagoya or the surrounding towns before I went there but it was nice to be able to experience the slower paced life in Japan, compared to Tokyo, where everyone is in a rush all the time.
4. How does your major tie into your study abroad plans?
My major is International Studies with a focus on Comparative Cultures, so I think it fits my study abroad experience pretty well. It's fairly easy to compare and contrast two cultures that are so vastly different from each other.
5. How have you prepared in terms of language for Tokyo, and has it made a difference in your abroad experience thus far?
The Japanese language uses a combination of 3 alphabets; Hiragana, Katakana, and Kanji. I taught myself the first 2 before I got here and I also knew how to introduce myself, some basic survival phrases regarding how to ask where things are, and some casual phrases that are used during conversation with friends. It has helped immensely in the sense that I already had a foundation and now I am just building off of that instead of learning from scratch.