My study abroad experience in Japan has come to an end, and when I look back on the last three months, words cannot describe what an amazing experience it was. During my time in Japan, I have met so many wonderful people, learned a new language, and traveled on my own. These are some of the experiences I had while studying abroad in Japan, and hopefully this will be inspire you to study abroad in the future!
1. Meet new amazing people.
Not only did I meet other American students within the exchange student program, but I also met many Japanese students while attending school for a semester. Everyone I met has been so kind, patient, and fun, and we have made amazing new memories in Japan together: everything from hanging out in the newly renovated student lounge, discovering delicious Japanese cuisine, getting lost on the subway together, and singing karaoke all night! The city will never be the same with all the memories I made with new friends, and even though it can be difficult to get to know a completely new group of people, it was an amazing opportunity to reach out and make new friendships that I’m sure will last a long time.
2. Learn how to adapt to a new culture.
Three months is not enough time to learn a new language completely, but it is enough time to learn how to have simple conversations and learn to survive in a new country. Although my Japanese skills have a long way to go, I learned how to be more flexible and adapt to new situations that occur due to cultural or language differences. At first, everything was a challenge—even buying a water bottle was a strange and new experience! However, as I kept encountering these experiences, I learned how to accept these challenges and learn something from them. Even though I continued to struggle and have difficult moments, my newly acquired positive attitude helped me look at these situations as lessons and not just difficulties. It’s this new attitude that I took away from this study abroad experience, and it’s something that cannot be taught in classrooms.
3. Travel on your own.
Exploring Tokyo with my friends, getting lost on the subway, and trying new foods are all wonderful memories that I will keep with me for a lifetime, but when you are studying abroad, I really recommend taking some time to travel on your own. During my three months in Japan, I traveled alone to Osaka for a weekend. I discovered new cafes, saw the beautiful city, and even watched a piano concert. It was a different experience from traveling with my friends—when you are with other people, their thoughts and moods also become part of your trip. However, when you are completely alone in a new city, only your thoughts and moods inhibit your trip, and traveling alone teaches you a lot about yourself.
Reflecting back on my study abroad experience, I have no regrets that I decided to spend a semester in Japan, a completely strange country that I have never been to before that I did not even know the language of. Yes, surviving there was a little difficult, but I learned so many new things both about myself and the world that I know I could have only learned from studying abroad.
So if you are thinking about studying abroad, I would say don’t hesitate and just do it! I know you won’t regret it.