留学先 ：College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University
学部・学科 ：外国語学部 英語コミュニケーション学科 国際ビジネスコミュニケーション専攻
Study Abroad Experience
My purpose is to improve my English skill, to get in touch and learn about different cultures, and to learn self-reliance through my stay in the dorm. I have put much effort into my English studies because I always wanted to use my advantage of being a trilingual for my future career. However, I thought that I had been spoiling myself by studying English in an environment where I could always talk to people around me in Japanese. Therefore, I applied to this GASP program because I wanted to put myself in an environment surrounded by native English speakers where I can experience English in an environment that is tough for me and learn living English. In addition, I also want to be the better version of myself through this program, where I can experience new encounters without the safety net of my parents. I think that working is not everything in business, but how to build relationships is also important so I would like to learn how to build good relationships through my stay in the dorms and by participating in extracurricular activities.
・Goals I set before starting the program
– Make many friends
– Experience many things that can only be done in the U.S.
– Participate in extracurricular activities and events
– Studying is important but don’t forget to HAVE FUN
The first thing I struggled with was jet lag. As there was a 14-hour time difference, for the first two weeks, I woke up at two in the morning and fell asleep at noon, struggling to regain my daily rhythm. As for meals, we were served buffet-style meals in the cafeteria every day. In the beginning, I was curious about all the foods and enjoyed eating them, but after more than a month, I got used to the menu and started to get bored, so I tried to balance my diet by going to the other campus cafeteria or eating out with my friends. Unlike in Japan, students here basically spend their weekdays studying and working part-time, and what surprised me the most was that students were making plans for their study group instead of hanging out after class. Basically, people are studying and working on assignments during the weekdays and partying on the weekends as if to relieve the stress. Many people stay up late drinking on the weekends and it is very noisy at night. However, on Sundays, it becomes very quiet as if by magic and you can see many people studying. I was very impressed with how they were able to balance studying and playing so well. Another difference from Japan is the strong connection between universities and students. Since most of the students live on-campus, there are many on-campus events and most of the students actively participate in them. In Japan, we don’t see that many people participating in university events, so this is a very new experience for me. I thought it would be fun if this were the case in Japan as well, as it would be a place to meet new people and learn new things outside of class. Another difference from Japan is the strong connection between universities and students. Since most of the students live on-campus, there are many on-campus events, and most of the students actively participate in them. In Japan, you don’t see that many people participating in university events, so this is a very new experience for me. I thought it would be fun if this were the case in Japan as well, as it would be a place to meet new people and learn new things outside of class. As for weekend events, football games are beloved by students too. Many people come to watch the football games, and all CSBSJU students wear red or the school’s merch and go to cheer for the team. Also, I thought that school merch is basically just something parents buy as a souvenir and not many people actually wear it. However, the campus was full of students wearing the school merch, which reminded me once again that there is a deep connection between universities and students in America. There is a lot of fun stuff that we can do here but the disadvantage for exchange students is that we don’t have a car and are not allowed to drive (BGU’s rule), so if we don’t have any friends, it is really hard to get out of campus. However, as I mentioned earlier, because of the deep connections, there are many events and we can have a very fulfilling campus life. The school bus basically runs until midnight, so you can take a walk and go to the other campus for activities. Also, on weekends, there is a bus that goes to the shopping mall, so if you want to get out of campus, you can take this bus and explore the city. There is a lot of way to enjoy the study abroad experience and the main key is to be open in many things and make lots of friends.
Since I came to the U.S. a little late, I was not able to choose my classes, so I am currently taking Intercultural communication, Intro to film studies, public speaking and writing classes. I have heard that the education style is totally different from Japan and that classes in America include a lot of reading and discussion. However, as I came here as a scholarship student I took it for granted and that I would be fine but after actually coming here and taking the classes, I strongly realized that this is what the teachers were talking about. The amount of reading was way much more, and it will be hard to catch up with the classes if we do not do the reading before the class starts. The class begins knowing that everyone had read the textbook beforehand, and the professor asking. “Do you have any questions about the readings?” If not, the professor would give a brief explanation, and then we would immediately share our opinions and experiences in a discussion. I have realized that the American education style is way more self-reliant compared to Japan. They will give a lot of self-work to do out of class such as a dozen of reading and some quizzes. Another thing that surprised me was the attitude of the class. Basically, if the students had something on their mind, they would interrupt the teacher and speak up, even if the teacher was in the middle of speaking. Even during discussions, the students are basically very active, and since America is a low-context culture, they won’t know what’s on our mind unless we speak up, so if we don’t speak they will treat us as if we are not there. Compared to Japan, all the students are very active, and to be honest, I was mentally challenged because of the difference in the education style. However, I am now slowly getting use to this circumstances and slowly improving my English skill.
・Halloween in the US
The picture on the right is a picture taken when my friends and I went to do a pumpkin patch near our school. In the U.S., Halloween is celebrated in a bigger way than in Japan, and many families go to pumpkin patches where they sell pumpkins for Halloween and pick pumpkins. Not only do they sell pumpkins, but there are also small places where you can touch the animals, do pumpkin painting, and take pictures of the pumpkins and decorations that are all over the place. My friends and I went to my friend’s room afterward to decorate pumpkins, watch a Halloween movie, and experience Halloween culture. In this way, I try to spend time with my friends to familiarize myself with English and have new experiences.