Rachel is an Ambassador who studied abroad in Japan
Major: Gender and Culture in Japan
Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you decide on this program?
As a late declaring double major, I didn't have the spare time to complete a full semester abroad and graduate on time. However, I really wanted to have the experience of being an international student. I choose the short-term Japan program because it provided the EL component specifically for the Gender Studies major and was a country that I was interested in. With its rich blend of tradition and modern, I thought it would be a great country to analyze gender relations.
Briefly describe a specific cultural experience you had on your trip that made a lasting impression.
The greatest experience I had was on a little island called Miyajima, off the coast of Hiroshima. There, we saw not only groups of tourists of all ages, but countless Japanese middle-school and high-school students, exploring the unique identity of this area. It reminded me that not only are you exploring a new culture, but there are still opportunities to explore your own upon your return. And, there is always the possibility that you will teach the other international students you meet something too.
Describe your overall study abroad experience.
I was so happy that I choose Japan. The relationship that CSBSJU has with our partner school Bunkyo has been going for a number of years now. The students there are always excited to meet new international students and it is exciting when you see some of them come to the US to study. Being able to talk with not only the students, but teachers and organizations in Japan that deal with gendered issues was a very educating experience. I learned much more than I thought I would, both about Japan and the US.
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?
For those who can't fit in a full semester abroad, it is worth it to participate in a short-term program. Once you graduate from college, you will almost never have the experience to be an international student again. It provides a unique set of experiences that you can't find by simply traveling abroad. It shows you how to look at social issues from a global perspective and potentially even outside the traditional Western perspective. It also is a rewarding experience that you can put on job and graduate school resumes!
What advice can you offer for CSB/SJU students who are considering or planning to study abroad?
I would say it is never to early to consider studying abroad. If you know what you want your major to be early on, you can plan on taking more classes in your field and saving the Common Core for when you travel abroad. The sooner you consider studying abroad, the more opportunities you will have to study both semester and short-term.