Padong is an Ambassador who studied abroad in Japan
Major: Global Business
Minor: Asian Studies
Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you decide on this program?
Before coming into college, I've always known that I wanted to travel abroad, I just didn't know where yet. After seeing all the programs available at CSB and SJU, it was a hard decision to make. But what led me up to choose the Japan Study abroad program was the Intro to Asian Studies course that I had taken prior before the start of the program. It had made me realize that there is so much more to see and understand in the cultures that reside in Asia, and has made me intrigued to want to learn more. Being quite familiar with the pop culture in Japan, I wanted to go and learn more about their cultural history and their language. With also being a Global Business major wanting to focus on international relations, I’ve always hoped to one day land a dream job abroad. And knowing that Japan is one of the world’s leading countries in the business industry, this was an opportunity I did not want to miss.
Briefly describe a specific cultural experience you had on your trip that made a lasting impression.
A specific cultural experience that has made a lasting impression even till this day would be my homestay experience. While abroad, you are given the opportunity to experience a homestay with a BGU (Bunkyo Gakuin University) student for one weekend, which I highly recommend you do. No words can describe how grateful I am to have been paired up with such a loving host family. They went out of their way to make sure I was comfortable in their home as if it were my own. They took me around to explore all of the popular touristy areas as well as the hidden gems in Tokyo. The thought of going to live with a family that I have never met before, let alone that I could not even speak fluent Japanese, made me really nervous. But what I got out of this experience was a lifelong relationship with a second family I can call my own. Even till this day I keep in contact with them and we continue to share our lives with each other while on different sides of the world. I will forever be grateful for the gratitude they’ve given me and I look forward to going back to visit.
Describe your overall study abroad experience.
My overall abroad experience was amazing. All of the excursions, the people I’ve met, and learning the culture has really given me a new perspective and a sense of personal growth from this experience. No doubt that there will be challenges while abroad, whether it be with people, the courses, or just the thought of being so far away from home, but just remember that it is a learning process each step of the way and being outside of your comfort zone is where there is most self growth.
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?
My experience abroad has definitely given me a new perspective on viewing cultures outside of my own. For me, the beauty of being in Japan was not knowing anything, so when I got there I had no idea how to speak the language, I didn’t know much about the culture and the thought of going on solo adventures scared me because it’s a city I had no idea how to navigate. I wanted to experience everything, full with curiosity just wanting to know more. I’ve learned so much from this experience and I’ve learned so much about myself. Each and every moment there was a moment of growth to my personal, academic and professional development where I got to practice my networking skills, as well as efficient communication, and being a stronger individual overcoming things I once feared.
What advice can you offer for CSB/SJU students who are considering or planning to study abroad?
I would say if you do go abroad, go with an open mind. Some things will not be the same compared to your own country, and so don’t compare it to your own country. Go there to learn and immerse yourself in the culture and to learn and grow in yourself. Don’t be afraid to engage in the community and for sure take the time to be adventurous on the days off from school. There are so many places to visit in Japan, I just wish there was more time to explore everything, so definitely take advantage of all the free time you have. And lastly, don’t forget to just have fun!