Name: Teena
Major(s): International Business & Marketing
Program: Temple University Japan
Where: Tokyo, Japan
When: Spring 2006
Favorite Course: Japanese Elements I
Highlights: Hanami festival, watching sumo, visiting shrines, being in and about Tokyo (especially Shibuya and Harajuku)
Best Excursions: Snowboarding in Nagano and traveling to Kyoto
Next Destination: Beijing, China



How did the location enhance your academic experience?

Being in Japan helped me tremendously. I was able to practice my Japanese with people and try to read signs around me. I was able to pick-up and remember phrases faster – having to use the language often on a daily basis to interact with people is much different from strictly learning the language in a classroom. In my Japanese Culture course, we took several field trips around Tokyo which allowed us to actually visit and see the places we learned about in class. For example, one of our trips was to Yasukuni Shrine, where we learned the history and saw numerous artifacts from different eras in Japan’s history. It’s great when you can have the opportunity to visit the monument you’re learning about in class, it makes everything more real and personal. I learned a lot about Japanese business practices and was fortunate enough to be in a class with students who were already in the workforce and who provided lots of insights from their personal experiences. I was able to apply or experience first-hand everything I learned in my classes on a daily basis.

Describe your most memorable experience while abroad.

I went to Nagano for a snowboarding excursion. When we first arrived, the weather was in terrible condition – it was icy and rainy, not ideal for a first-time snowboarder. Nonetheless, I didn’t let the weather inhibit me from getting on the slopes. On the second day, the weather still didn’t improve, but some friends somehow managed to talk me into going further up the mountain. The third and final day was beautiful! It was sunny and the view was amazing. Feeling pretty confident about the previous day’s event (the fact that I survived), I decided I would go up again. This time, the view was spectacular. I have never seen anything that beautiful in my life. Before heading down, I remember taking a moment to appreciate the sights around me. It was one of those moments I experienced many times during my trip when I realized “I am in Japan. I am really in Japan.” I constantly had to keep reminding myself because I just couldn’t believe it. I will never forget that image for as long as I live. It’s like nothing I’ve ever seen before.

How has this experience changed you?

Studying abroad has changed my outlook on many things, especially my future and where I see it heading. After being abroad, I feel like my career options have broadened. I’m more aware of some of the different jobs available, and I would like to take advantage of them in the near feature, particularly teaching English in Asia. I also feel that I’m more willing to meet new people and be more accepting. When you’re abroad, you’re able to meet people who you would never have the opportunity to meet at main campus because there’s such a large student body. You bond with these new friends, and you realize how many things in common you actually have. Since you’re away from family, the friends that you make become like a second family to you; it’s reassuring when you’re in a different country to have these connections. Overall studying abroad has also inspired me to travel more – to see and experience different things. Sometimes you forget that there’s another world out there besides your own and, in a sense, it’s very refreshing. You learn new things, and you grow from those experiences. It’s a great way to take advantage of life and what it has to offer.