Studying Abroad as a Japanese Student
Updated: Jan 21
What comes to your mind when you hear about studying abroad? Why I ask you this is because it was different between what I imagined and what I experienced. Studying abroad sounded interesting and longing to me at that time. Let me state the conclusion of my experience first. My study abroad experience was tough and more challenging than I had expected. However, I learned a lot, and thanks to the wonderful experiences, here I am now. In this story, I will discuss one of the difficulties I faced and how I got it over.
On the long-awaited first day of my study abroad in the US, my excitement quickly turned into anxiety. Language barriers were in front of me. I could not catch what the American people were saying. Additionally, many international students spoke English fluently and I could not help comparing my English to theirs. I was disappointed at my English level, but I thought that I would be able to improve it through this opportunity. At first, I was thinking too much about having to speak perfect English and it actually made me feel so nervous to talk to people, but I realized that it does not have to be perfect and I tried to focus on speaking in my own words. It was not easy for me to make a fresh start immediately, but I did my best taking advantage of many opportunities like going to a local church and joining a university campus event like movie night. I used English as much as possible everyday and I can say that the more you use it, the more you will improve.
My challenge with speaking English continued, especially in my classes. Even though I was having trouble with daily conversation, classes were much harder because there were many academic terms my professors were using that I never heard of. I was desperate to memorize those terms and catch up with classes. My heart was going to break off because of stress, but I relied on my professors and classmates. To catch up with classes, I talked with my professors after class and I also studied with my classmates which finally got me through. Based on my experience, it is not only important to improve my English skills, but also to learn something academic in a second language.
Even though I encountered many challenges, I learned many things from my study abroad experience. For example, I improved upon my communication skills which is very useful in my life now because I am currently working in my university in Japan where I have to communicate with professors, students, and more people both in English and Japanese. Also, I am glad to share a piece of my experiences here because I hope it provides you with an opportunity to learn something new and motivates you to challenge yourself to study abroad.
Walter Clinton Jackson Library, University of North Carolina at Greensboro