Brenda Montes

Brenda is an Ambassador who studied abroad in Japan

Major: Communication      

Minor: Asian Studies, Japanese

Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you decide on this program?

Ever since middle school, I had always dreamed of studying abroad and there was no doubt that it would be in Japan. Wanting to go to Japan is the reason why I wanted to study abroad in the first place. I was exposed to the Japanese culture for as long as I could remember. From watching anime shows to learning the language, I have always had a passion for it. I knew that by exposing myself to another country other than my own, would help improve my character and goals. Not knowing what lies ahead by accepting to go abroad, is what excited me the most. Of course I was very anxious but I never doubted my decision, even while abroad.

Briefly describe a specific cultural experience you had on your trip that made a lasting impression.

One of the greatest cultural experiences I had while abroad was when my study abroad group and the other international exchange students at my school in Japan, participated in the town's festival. It was called the Nezu Shrine Festival. It was such an eye-opening experience to see all the Japanese citizens accept us as members of their community in order to help carry the "mikoshi," which is a portable shrine representing a deity. This festival required everyone to help carry the mikoshi, which is the goal for studying abroad. Which is to connect with different people from different parts of the world in order to come together and be one. After that festival, I felt truly accepted into the cultural.

Describe your overall study abroad experience.

Overall, my experience in Japan was something completely different than just moving to a new school. It made me realize my potential in different areas that I never knew I had in me. Of course it's different for everyone, but on behalf of everyone in my group, I can honestly say that we all changed in so many ways. I left Japan as a different person with different goals. Change can either be a good thing or a bad thing, but studying abroad in Japan was definitely an amazing experience.

Based on your experiences abroad, what are some of the benefits of spending a semester abroad? How has studying abroad contributed to your personal, academic, and professional development?

I experienced many different situations in Japan, good and bad ones. Everything I had to go through though, made every part of me a better person. Each day that I spent in Japan was another day where I was growing personally, academically, and professionally. There were many events where I connected with people that helped improve my character. Going to school in Japan also helped my professional skills because of the different people we met there. These benefits of networking with different people is one of the most unique things this program has to offer. Being exposed to this helped work on my own skills, like becoming more responsible and communicating effectively.

What advice can you offer for CSB/SJU students who are considering or planning to study abroad?

The advice I would give is to definitely follow what your gut tells you. It is important to take on as many opportunities as life throws your way. Not many people have that chance to do stuff like studying abroad, so that's why it is even more special when you do. If you are looking for a life-changing event, study abroad can definitely grant you that. It does however, depend on the individual and if they are ready for that change. Though, the best way to experience a great studying abroad semester is by accepting that change to begin with. One has to be ready for the way things will happen even though you are unsure. It is important to consider the famous saying, "carpe diem," as I believe defines the way my own personal experience was.