Michael Griffiths - 2016 Program Participant

What inspired you to go abroad?

My love for anime/gaming and Japan. I also wanted to force myself to start coming out of my shell that was quickly turning into a prison.

How did you find out about World Campus International?

It was recommended by my Japanese tutor.

Tokyo city skyline

What surprised you most about Japan?

Everything surprised me. It truly is the other side of the planet, after all. Japan is so unique, especially the way people carry themselves. I did not have any day without something new.

How difficult was it to communicate with locals?

Very, but the people who couldn't speak English (meaning most people) were willing to wait until I had finished translating what I wanted to say on my phone. I was also taught some basic lines by World Campus, which helped a lot.

Describe a typical day in the life of your program.

Hard wake up, eat breakfast with the host family, go do activities with WCI, return to the host family’s house for dinner. This was the format of the normal day I would follow; however, the contents of each section mentioned above was different daily.

What did you enjoy doing in your free time?

Chatting with the new people around me, Karaoke, Amusement park visits and shopping for Anime Figures. To give a few Examples.

A garden in Tokyo, Japan
Garden of some dead Important person

What do you wish you could change about your program?

If I have any complaints about this schedule, it was that we visited too many shrines and temples (I counted eight, I think, across my two month visit).

How did local staff support you throughout your program most?

The thing they supported me with most was helping me resolve situations I'd created out of a lack of knowledge of the culture.

What was your accommodation like?

The accommodation was very diverse, as I stayed in a total of nine different places (hotels included). Some places were designed to be traditional Japanese, like in Anime, and some were especially homey (mostly because of the kids). One even looked like a modern, Western European house.

Do you have any packing tips for individuals headed to Japan?

Pack a spare luggage bag. I ended up with so many gifts and souvenirs that I had to buy an extra bag (and not a small one either!). Even if you don't plan on buying anything at all, at least leave some spare room, because chances are you will need more space.

What was the hardest part about studying abroad in Japan?

Taking a leap of faith. It's not easy to spend a lot of money to go to the other side of the planet. Beyond that, I guess remembering all the names. I met a LOT of new people and names are important to the Japanese, so they expect you to remember their names. Needless to say, I failed.

What is one thing you wish you would have known before studying abroad in Japan?

How much the Japanese cherish names and there are special travel cards which you can put money on. You buy this card and after that the card is free. You charge the card with money and then simply scan it on your way through a gate. I've seen friends of mine using it (all the japanese basically) and it is very convenient. It isn't compatible with all of Japan though but if it isn't then a red light comes up and you just pay normally.

Swordsmith, Tokyo, Japan
At a Swordsmith (Katana)

How has your time in Japan impacted your daily life at home?

I spend more time chatting over the internet and I read more books that are translated from Japanese. More importantly, I look at problems more optimistically.

What do you feel the biggest benefit of studying abroad is?

The development of character. Experiencing a completely different way of life helps you to figure out why things are the way they are in your home country. Things for which there are typically no explanations for, like collecting dirty clothes in a laundry bin, the Japanese have different methods of solving such problems and seeing this helped me develop a different way of viewing problems, and therefore finding more efficient solutions. It's hard to explain, but I just believe I'm a bigger person than I was (not just physically!).

Would you recommend your program to others? Why?

Certainly. If you (a) have an Interest in Japan, (b) have a level 100 MyAnimelist track record (Note: you will learn about Japan NOT about Anime), and (c) want to grow as a person, then you will not go wrong with this program.

What is one piece of advice you have for future participants?

You will be challenged, in a good way.

If you could study abroad again, where would you go?

I would (and hopefully will this summer) go to a new region with World Campus. They change their destinations each year. I don't know exactly how they choose where they go, but all I know is it changes. I will definitely go and visit my old host families after the program is over though; I miss them.