For how long did you stay abroad?
4 months (1 semester)
Why did you choose to learn abroad?
I had always wanted to go to Japan, and thought it would be a great learning opportunity to go study in a new place.
My university was also a great opportunity to get to know people, and I learned a lot about how Japanese businesses operate in comparison to Western businesses.
What are the specific skills that you learned or developed?
Japanese language skills through interaction with locals, Adaptability through experiencing unfamiliarity in a new environment, Cultural sensitivity through adjusting to a new culture that was very different from my own
What benefits did you get from the experience?
I learned a lot about myself and my own abilities. On exchange, everyday things like grocery shopping were unfamiliar and more difficult to accomplish. It often seemed daunting, but I learned to push myself to try, and realized that I was able to succeed. My university was also a great opportunity to get to know people, and I learned a lot about how Japanese businesses operate in comparison to Western businesses.
Please, name 2 challenges that you faced and how you overcame them in your experience.
During the second month of my exchange, I got a really bad cold, and I had to go see a doctor. I went to a clinic nearby that said they had English-speaking staff, but soon realized that this wasn’t really true. I didn’t know medical terms in Japanese, such as the words for “cough” and “fever”, so I felt like I couldn’t communicate properly. Eventually I did a quick google search and found another clinic that was recommended by other foreigners as English-speaking. This second clinic was a little further, but I was able to fully speak in English and convey how I was feeling. In Canada, I would never have to think twice about whether or not I’d be able to visit a clinic.
Another challenge I faced was in making friends with local Japanese people. Initially, most of the friends I made were also from other countries, either exchange students at my university or my housemates (as I wasn’t living in university-provided accommodation). While they came from different cultures, it was still largely familiar. However, I knew that I should try to branch out. It was often a struggle because of the language barrier and cultural differences, but I learned so much from my Japanese friends. By pushing myself to use Japanese, I developed both my abilities and confidence in the language. I also learned a lot about Japanese culture and differences, which allowed me to make the most of my experience in Japan.
By pushing myself to use Japanese, I developed both my abilities and confidence in the language. I also learned a lot about Japanese culture and differences, which allowed me to make the most of my experience in Japan.
Would you recommend learning abroad to a friend? Why?
Absolutely. You learn so much from being abroad that goes beyond the classroom. It’s like throwing yourself into the deep end, and while there is a period where you feel lost, you end up feeling like you have a second home at the end of it. It was the greatest experience of my university career.