Monday, June 13, 2016

A Note On Studying Abroad

Ever since I got back home I have begun to miss Japan. There are so many little things about the country I sincerely love. I miss the super clean streets and public bathrooms. I also miss the recycling options they have along with all the book stores and vending machines.
While, most of my experience in Japan was positive, there where a few things that frustrated me. I am happy to have gotten the chance to study abroad and I am sincerely glad I did it but traveling in a group of nineteen people is very exhausting along with taking two classes in only 4 weeks. I would advise if you are planning to study abroad to another country please learn the language of the country you are going to. Most of the people on the trip somehow managed to get on the trip with out taking one Japanese class. I really advise against this. I found myself, after studying the language for about two years now, struggling to communicate. I was extremely frustrated at the fact that my roommate for homestay said it was her "dream" to be there but didn't bother taking the language. I found myself translating the very little Japanese I could understand from my homestay parents,  who did not speak much English, to English and a little Spanish I knew for my roommate. She was mostly Spanish speaking. This was kinda frustrating for me and I think my homestay parents as well. They would both look at me for translation a lot when I could hardly understand myself.  

 Other than the language barrier, I would also advise against buying a lot. People on the trip would spend money at every shrine, or place we went while in Japan. It was so bad that people where asking each other for suit case space because they ran out. What was worse is when we where coming back to the U.S, most of the people exceeded the weight limit and couldn't afford to pay the over head cost due to them spending all their money.  Going through customs was even worse since some people where questioned. I personally bought very few things. A cool souvenir jacker, hoari (those are the kimono jackets worn over the kimono), two pairs of pants and a few tops from uniqlo, manga and a few other small things. Everything either fit in my very small checked luggage or was carried on with me. I had no issues. I will probably post about those things later in the week. I still have about 2 rolls of film left to scan. 
The last thing that really got on my nerves was the art appreciation class I was forced to take. I really thought going into this I was only taking one Japanese class. Turned out I was wrong. While, my Japanese prof or sensei, was pretty cool about homework and things my art teacher was not. She expected us to go out of our way, even on our "free days" to visit museums and things she will later test on or try to hold a class on. I think at times she even inconvenienced our Japanese prof. You could tell at times she was stressed out about it. I would always advise to know both profs before taking on a study abroad program because sometimes the art prof was very frustrating. When we where traveling back from Kyoto to Tokyo most of us where tried and just wanted to shower and hang out at the hotel. We had all agreed that that was the end of the day for us. However, later  that we all got a line notification that we must go see some art exhibit. We all complained and where super frustrated that night. My other prof was tired and so was the rest of us. The irony of that night was instead of seeing the exhibit she wanted us to see, we ran off and just looked at the Sailor Moon one that was going on. Even though, that night worked out in my favor, it was just hard to deal with last minute stuff she tried to shove into the trip. 
I am happy I went despite the fact I have a essay to do and two finals to complete online. I enjoyed myself and am happy to experience a different culture other than American. But for now on, I think I will just save my money and travel without a class or a group. But I still wouldn't trade the experience for anything.