I am an East Asian studies major and I really like learning languages. I believe that the only way you can truly become fluent in a foreign language is to spend time in the country it is spoken in, so I put that to the test by living in Japan for a semester.
Why did you choose IES Abroad Nagoya?
I looked at other programs going to Japan, but I thought IES Abroad Nagoya really fit me the best. It offered several amazing trips, and the program itself cost less than others that didn't offer the same benefits.
What was your favorite part about Nagoya?
Nagoya is a city, but it isn't on the same scale as Tokyo, which made it much more bearable. There were plenty of activities, and the public transportation in Japan is magnificent. I really liked all the little shrines and temples tucked away in corners of the city.
What made your experience abroad unique?
I had a great host family that went above and beyond what they were required to do. We would go on trips to places that my program didn't take me to, in much more rural areas, and it really gave me a more authentic experience of Japan.
How did local staff support you throughout your program?
If I had any questions or concerns, the staff of my program was very easy to get in contact with. I had several copies of their information cards and could call or email them when needed.
What's one thing you wish you would have done differently?
I wish I had walked around with no particular destination in mind more often. I only started doing that at the very end, and I feel like I missed out on a lot of amazing places that were just waiting for me to stumble upon them.
Describe a typical day in the life of the IES Abroad Nagoya program.
I usually woke up around 6 a.m. I would get ready for school, put away my futon, open my curtains and window, and inhale my breakfast because I had no time before I had to walk (or run) to catch the bus. I would take the bus to the subway, and the subway to school. Then I would hike up the hill to Nanzan. I'd have two classes before having lunch with some of my friends. On some days, I had more classes after lunch, but not always.
If I ended class early, I'd maybe take the subway to Sakae, and browse around shopping, or sit with my laptop in Starbucks. Then I'd take the subway and the bus home in time for dinner at 6:30 p.m. Some nights I would hang around the kotatsu (a sort of Japanese coffee table) with my host family, playing games or watching T.V. Other nights, I would go up to my room to do homework. Around 9 p.m. I would shower and then soak in the ofuro (bath). Then I would watch videos, or finish my homework, until I was ready to make my futon and go to bed.
What did you enjoy doing in your free time?
Sakae was a great place to hang out if I had no other plans. I really liked walking around finding new places. Also, I enjoyed going to Book Off and buying cheap manga (graphic novels), and then finding a nice and relaxing place to read it.
What was your accommodation like? What did you like best about it?
I lived with a host family. It was roughly an hour commute to school every day, but that is typical. My family was very nice and understanding of my struggles as an international student. They were very helpful with things like the forms I had to do for the ward office, which can be very overwhelming for a non-native speaker of Japanese. I've kept in touch with them after leaving the program.
What is one thing every participant should know before participating in IES Abroad Nagoya?
The school system in Japan is very different from in the United States. I had assumed that all universities would function similarly, but was surprised to find otherwise. To be honest, I wasn't always the biggest fan of how Japan does education, but it was a great experience nonetheless. It really makes me appreciate my home university.
Now that you're home, how has your program with IES Abroad impacted your life?
It really made me appreciate living in my own country more. I didn't realize how much I would miss things like being able to walk and eat or drink at the same time. My time abroad made me better able to see things in a more global sense, like how the world affects my country, and how my country affects the world.
Would you recommend IES Abroad to others? Why?
I definitely would recommend my program. I learned a lot from my experiences with IES Abroad, and I really enjoyed myself while doing so. And even if you don't end up loving your time in Japan (although I doubt you will end up hating it), it is a great thing to be able to put on a resume.
Tatianna is a 21 year old from a tiny town in rural New Jersey. She goes to school outside of Boston, and is a triple major in East Asian studies, psychology, and linguistics. During the school year, she works as a research assistant in a psychology lab on campus, and is on the editorial staff of a literary magazine. She had very little travel experience before studying abroad in Japan.