There are many reasons as to why a student may not want to study abroad “be it lack of money, familial distance or personal security” says Tyrus Torres, a third-year Japanese language and culture major. However, studying abroad in Japan since September 2017 has made Torres realize that the reasons to do it far outweigh any others.
He advises for the students who may feel too nervous or doubtful to study abroad to “just do it.”
“It may seem daunting, scary and even crazy at first, but thousands of students travel abroad each year and the majority will always come back with lifelong memories,” says Torres.
Torres has been wanting to experience different cultures, food and lifestyles. He chose Japan because it was recommended to study abroad for language acquisition and cultural immersion. Although he had a lot of cities to choose from, Torres ended up picking Dokkyo Daigaku in Saitama Prefecture. Dokkyo University, located on the outskirts of Tokyo, is a German language school that focuses international economics, politics, languages and history.
When he arrived in Japan on Sep. 12, it was a pleasant shock for Torres having not been used to heavily populated cities. He was amazed by the city’s public transportation, street lights and bicycles. He had to learn how to clean a tatami floor, use a Japanese toilet/washer, and dry clothes. Torres has also had to learn how to navigate store services and products which he claims are much more affordable than in the U.S.
As for the learning curve, Torres’s experience has been enjoyable because his courses are well suited for his language ability. He expected his days to be filled with studying, attending Japanese Language courses and having a limited social life. However, he says that his courses and the university staff are understandable; they have allowed him free time to catch up on studying, napping and socializing.
Torres has had national and international students reach out to him. They have taught him about the Japanese culture and about other countries’ cultures. He expected to befriend more Japanese students, as opposed to exchange students, but he found it challenging because of their schedules.
Since living in a different country, Torres has tried a wide variety of Japanese food such as traditional ramen, Indian curry and takoyaki. Although there was much to choose from, he noticed it was hard to gain weight due to Japan’s smaller and healthier portions. In addition, the majority of people in Japan do not own cars in the city, so most of them either bike, walk or take the train.
Even though Torres has been living in one of the most populated cities, he sometimes feels alone and ostracized. He says it is common to feel this way due to living in a homogenous country like Japan. Whenever he feels down he remembers that “there are others all around you who want to reach out and interact with you.”
Torres believes that studying abroad has helped him “grow in ways he has never thought possible” and it has “allowed him to take control over his life instead of being caught up in a mundane schedule.” Even if you do not know a country’s language well, he says that immersion is the best way to learn it. It is not too late for you to have your own study abroad experience. The deadline for studying abroad in the Fall of 2018 is May 2. To learn more about Fall 2018 study abroad programs go to csumb.edu/educationabroad/education-abroad-fall-2018-deadlines.