Ger is an Ambassador who studied abroad in Japan
Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you decide on this program?
I decided to study abroad because I wanted to experience something that I have never experienced before. I also wanted a global perspective before deciding what I really want to do with my career and my communication degree. I decided on this program because I've heard great things from students that have gone on the program from previous years. Hearing their stories of Japan and what they experienced there was a key factor in my decision on Japan.
Briefly describe a specific cultural experience you had on your trip that made a lasting impression.
During our stay in Japan we were privileged to have the opportunity to go volunteer in Minamisan Riku where the the tsunami hit. We went to talk with junior leaders that are trying to create a space for the children to play and get away from the tsunami affected area. We volunteered in Minamisan Riku by digging up the soil to expose the foundation so that when reconstruction begins it will be a lot easier to lift the foundation out. Lastly we went to a Buddhist temple and talk to the monks there about the diasater and how it has affected people's religion there. We were split up into three groups and each group had some one on one time with a monk. The monk that was in my group told us his personal story about his experience with the tsunami and how that has changed his life and his view on his religion. This experience taught me a lot about the power of hope and the possibilities of what people can do when they come together as a community.
Describe your overall study abroad experience.
Describing my study abroad experience is still a difficult thing for me to do because there was so much that went on and so many things that changed me. To put it short, my study abroad experience changed my outlook on life and changed who I am as an individual, student, brother, son, and as a friend. I am happy to say that I also have a family in Japan waiting for my return.
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?
Some benefits of spending a semester abroad is that we get to immerse yourself in a foreign culture that we might not be familiar with and learn a language in that country. We get the opportunity to learn about the politics, school system, business, arts, and everyday life while in that country. We learn it in class and when we step outside of the classroom, we are able to see and use what we learned. We get to see how the world operates in that country, from eyes of that country. Studying abroad helped me grow as a individual in ways that I am still figuring out till this day. I see the unhealthiness in our food here in America and I am trying to change that for myself and my parents at home. I see that there our many opportunities out there that I never knew existed before studying abroad. During my stay in Japan I had the opportunity to volunteer at a daycare and play with the kids and be treated like a employee. I found that to be very rewarding because I got to experience what it is like to work in a different country and the differences in work ethics and work communication.
What advice can you offer for CSB/SJU students who are considering or planning to study abroad?
Wherever you may choose to go study abroad, remember that you are only there as a student once and you should make as much friends as possible and live that country's life style. It doesn't even have to be that country's life style. I notice in Japan that every different major city has a different life style. Enjoy you're time there and make lots of memories.