National University of Singapore

Name: Kimiko Yamaguchi   |   Country: Singapore   |   Date: Fall/Winter/Year Long, 2016

Kimiko Yamaguchi
For how long did you stay abroad?

4 months ( 1 semester)

Why did you choose to learn abroad?

I wanted to enhance my academics by taking an opportunity to learn from a different perspective and take it as a personal growing experience.

The experience is familiar because you’re in school but it’s different in every other way. It forces you to learn from a different perspective both in and outside of the classroom.

What are the specific skills that you learned or developed?

Adaptability, because I was in a new country, new place, and needed to learn to adapt quickly to make the best of my time there.

Being flexible and problem solving skills. I had to develop these skills through the different obstacles I’d face whether I was with friends or alone, whether I had Google or not, I had to be able to solve problems to overcome and keep going.

What benefits did you get from the experience?

I feel that being able to learn from professors of different perspectives and peers of different perspectives helped me have a broader view and broader perspective in life. Academically, I think it was amazing to learn in a different way, professors are professors, but to learn in a different socio-cultural environment changes a lot. Overall, the experience has helped me view my academics more globally and how different learning can be applied elsewhere.

Kimiko Yamaguchi
Please, name 2 challenges that you faced and how you overcame them in your experience.

I encountered some conflicts in the way people “are” per say. The issues that come up when you travel with friends, the friends that are spontaneous and the friends that plan trips to very minute details. We had to learn to compromise with each other, allowing for spontaneity when need be, and allowing for planning for other things. We would decide on certain days what would get done, what would happen, and we’d decide what days we would leave blank to allow for whatever we wanted that day.

There was also the issue of when I got there, I had gone alone on exchange, and so I didn’t have my usual support system with a 13 hour time difference, I really only had that usual support for short periods in the morning and at night. It made the first little while difficult, but those skills I had to develop came in. I had to solve problems on my own, make new friends (since isn’t that one of the main points of exchange anyway?) and create a new and different support system that would get me through the school term and have fun. There wasn’t a specific way to overcome it, but it came naturally with a little work, and just being nice.

As much as the experience was technically an academic one, I think the learning you do outside of the classroom is so much more valuable, and is something you can’t always get with that extra bit of safety net.

Would you recommend learning abroad to a friend? Why?

Absolutely! I recommend it to anyone, even if they’re graduating I recommend it to friends to do it during a Masters if they plan on it. The experience is familiar because you’re in school but it’s different in every other way. It forces you to learn from a different perspective both in and outside of the classroom. As much as the experience was technically an academic one, I think the learning you do outside of the classroom is so much more valuable, and is something you can’t always get with that extra bit of safety net. The knowing that you’ll be returning back to your normal life after. It doesn’t change the fact that you’re in a strange new place, where you have to learn quickly and with an open mind, and adapt, but that’s all a part of the experience and part of what makes it all worthwhile and an experience you’ll never forget.

Kimiko Yamaguchi