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Notes from Abroad: Ann in Japan
Notes from Abroad is a new feature on the Off-Campus Programs website, in which we highlight small snippets of a student’s experience. This week’s feature is from Ann Kong ’17, an Asian Studies major currently studying abroad in Japan.
Studying abroad to Japan made me realize how big the world is and how there are so much to learn. I have been studying Japanese for eight years and coming to Japan helped me see how much Japanese I knew and what can I improve upon. Being able to use Japanese and communicating with native Japanese speakers is very excited and I also get nervous. I also learned new words after coming to Japan. Everyday is a new discovery.
Classroom atmosphere is very different compare with Lake Forest College. We have class almost every day and we must take at least ten courses per semester. However, classes are very fun and interesting. The professors in Japan put more trust that students will come to class and do not talk about how many absences are allowed. It was one of those interesting difference that I felt during the syllabus week. Participations are greatly emphasized in Japan too. Many people thought that Japanese students are quiet and shy. However, from my experience, that was not the case. Students are actively participating and communicating with the professors. Many stereotypes were broken after I came to Japan and experienced things for myself. I am so grateful to be able to experience these things because it helps me grow into a more open-minded adult. I am able to think outside the box and free myself from assumptions and stereotyping people. After breaking away from assumptions I made many great friends!
I have become very conscious about recycling ever since coming to Japan. In Japan recycling is mandatory and throwing away garbage is very strict. We have certain day where we throw away certain things. Food wastes are picked up on Mondays and plastic wastes are collected on Wednesdays. It was very hard in the beginning to find out which garbage belongs to which day of collections. I made a lot of mistakes and took out the wrong garbage on wrong days. However, making mistakes help you learn and now I know what garbage is collected on which days. It made me think that if everyone was offered the same opportunity to recycle, we could be more environmentally friendly. It is an idea I would love to adopt and use in my own daily life after I return back home.
I thought I would always be eating sushi in Japan, but that was not the case. There are so many choices other than sushi that I feel like I would not have enough time to try them all. Italian food is very popular in Japan and we found a lot of Japanese fusion Italian food. The food culture in Japan is amazing.
Exploring new parts of the world is the most exciting part for study abroad. We had the opportunity to go to Oasis 21, which is the downtown part of Nagoya. We also got the chance to go to Nagoya castle and Osu Kannon. Osu Kannon has temples and street markets.
I would like to express my gratefulness to Ingrid H. and George L. Speros for supporting my dream to study abroad come true. I am truly thankful and honor to have the opportunity to study abroad in Japan during my senior year of college. This opportunity will for sure help me grow as a strong individual and the experiences I am gaining in Japan will be used to help encourage others to pursue studying abroad.