Kaileigh is an Ambassador who studied abroad in Japan
Major: Asian Studies
Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you decide on this program?
I chose Japan because it has always been a dream of mine to visit that country- additionally, my major is Japanese based, so it was both an academic and career rooted decision. Japan is a vastly unique country with a diverse and rich history, and I wanted to be a part of that foundation. It also helped me determine whether or not I really want to live there after I graduate, which was a life choice that has been on my mind for a few years now.
Briefly describe a specific cultural experience you had on your trip that made a lasting impression.
One of the things I was blessed to be able to do while in Japan was to intern at a preschool there. During my time in the preschool I was able to see that no matter where you go in the world children continue to be curious, joyful, and enthusiastic about what I often take for granted. There are no social barriers that have been constructed, and no hesitation to try to communicate, even when language got in the way.
Describe your overall study abroad experience.
Some days classes were a struggle. The Japanese education system relies heavily on lecture style, one that I was entirely not used to having grown up in the discussion-based education system of the United States my entire life. I knew that every day would involve a personal effort of trying to stay active, despite what I considered a very inactive teaching method. Though this system was difficult for me at times, I appreciated the experience and feel I better understand the struggle of international students when they come to the United States now.
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 never considered myself to be unaware of the world around me. And though I do not believe that I've been wholly ignorant my whole life before Japan, I do see now that my previous awareness was very selective. One thing that we did while in Japan was read the newspaper every day and then discuss what we read during our seminar class. I discovered that because I selectively read an American newspaper, I often failed to see the perspective of the international opinion of my own country. I now have a heightened awareness of my international presence, and what it means when I step off a plane and hand my passport in at immigration, and the weight of what my nationality bares.
What advice can you offer for CSB/SJU students who are considering or planning to study abroad?
Do your research, don't be afraid to ask questions, and step out of your comfort zone. Don't let finances get in your way, because if you really want this, they will come. Get to know your program directors and your group, but also spend as much time as you can with the people of the country you are visiting. Develop a positive international presence.