Mai Chee Lee '21
Program: Japan Fall Semester
Minor: Asian Studies
Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you decide on this program?
I really enjoy trying new things, such as food, activities, clothing, etc to get new experiences. However, I have never tried traveling outside of the US before and wanted to see what was out there for me. I choose to study in Japan because I have always admired Japan's culture, language, food, and lifestyle. I really wanted to experience them and the Japan 2019 Fall study abroad program was the perfect opportunity for me to do so.
Briefly describe a specific cultural experience you had on your trip that made a lasting impression.
During the Bunkyo Gakuen school festival in October, I was one of the students leading the international student club during the event. For the club to be successful, there was a lot of preparation to be done before, during, and after the event. This event was really stressful since the Japanese and international students were all busy and had different ways of communication. However, despite our differences and misunderstandings, they were all really helpful throughout the whole event. The Japanese and international students took time out of their day to help decorate, lead activities, and clean for the club's event. This cultural experience made a lasting impression on me during my time in Japan.
Describe your overall study abroad experience.
My study abroad experience in Japan was really life changing. I never expected to meet so many new people and make so many new friends while I was in Japan. I was able to make friends with students from Turkey, Malaysia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Bulgaria, Japan, and China. Through meeting my friends, I was also able to learn about myself in different ways. I developed new life goals and plans. I was also able to try many new and different things in Japan, such as taking the train, eating fresh sashimi, seeing an active volcano, etc. Overall, my time in Japan was incredible and if I could, I would do it all again.
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?
On a personal level, I learned about myself more. After meeting new people and talking to them, I was able to create new goals for myself and future. For my academic benefits, I was able to learn a lot about the Japanese culture and tradition. The new information I learned really opened my eyes to how Japan really works. It was really interesting to learn. Lastly, making new friends and connections really helped with my professional development. For example, I was able to make really good connections with the staff members who work at the International office in Bunkyo Gakuen University. When it was time for the CSB/SJU students to return to the US, they encouraged me to apply to work there in the future. Having people who are supportive of you is really beneficial.
What advice can you offer for CSB/SJU students who are considering or planning to study abroad?
My advice is to study abroad if the students are mentally and financially able to. I understand that many people might not want to or have to funds to, but if anyone is able to study abroad without worries, then they should definitely do it! It will be life changing!