Anika Lakhan '23

Program: Japan Semester

Major: Political Science


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

I've studied abroad for a year outside of college and I wanted to experience this again in an educational setting. Having done my previous program in Europe, I desperately wanted to go beyond my comfort zone, into an area of the world I've never been quite familiar with. My Political Science background gave me unique opportunities to study the culture and political atmosphere of Japan firsthand.

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

Food is one of the things I consider most valuable to a culture. Being in Japan, and exposed to different foods from all over the country, most of which were accessible by a 5-minute walk from our dorm, was a really invaluable experience. Many of the students from the campus we studied on would offer to take us out to eat at their favorite restaurants, where we were able to learn about their interests and relationships with their culture and others.

Describe your overall study abroad experience.

The Japan study abroad program was diverse and welcoming. I felt at home there despite being thousands of miles away from Minnesota. Having the opportunity to travel all over the country through the program, and seeing how life in Japan is multifaceted and varied depending on what area one is in, really brings into perspective how narrow one's views of the world might be before experiencing life abroad themselves. I personally, by making connections with others in Japan, gained a much better understanding of how small this world really is. It was an amazing but hopefully not a once-in-a-lifetime 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?

In this ever-globalizing world, one of the greatest things one can do to prepare for the future is to study abroad. There is no way to quantify the value and opportunities that living abroad brings oneself. It's almost like an entire lifetime bundled up into one semester. You learn so much about the world, diversifying, breaking down, and building back up the way you see the world.
While abroad, I created countless friendships and connections, found passion in my major again, and solidified my plans to work abroad after graduation.

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

I advise that you save as much as you can before your trip, as you'll likely spend more than you might originally plan.
Remember that studying abroad is a privilege and while there will be plenty of opportunities to go out and experience city life, you are first and foremost a representative of CSB+SJU and must remember that your conduct reflects on the institution.
Finally, jump into it with both feet. Try not to have any expectations about where you're going or what you'll get out of it. Experience every day to the fullest and enjoy your time as much as possible.