Humans of International Studies
For me, “making it” in life means always having a goal that I'm going after and that keeps me occupied. In high school that was going to France for an exchange and now it’s going to Japan. As long as I'm comfortable, clothed, fed, have a roof over my head, and have a goal then that's all that matters. I've been wanting to study abroad in Japan since I was a little kid. It's really nice to be able to put my dreams into action and this motivates me to keep improving my Japanese. I'm grateful because this program has given me the opportunity to go to Japan and to really put the effort into learning Japanese because the hardest part is getting started. Despite my interest in Japanese since I was little, I needed sort of an academic institution to force me to put more work into it, but now that the ball is rolling, I'm self-studying a lot more. I have a lot more motivation to do things on my own, which I think is key to actually making things come through. I think the most important part of an exchange like this is to be able to communicate. I think Japanese society is a lot more forgiving than France in terms of language mistakes. I did my exchange in France in a high school setting and I thought to get better at French I would have to focus mainly on schoolwork, which is partly true because my written French really improved. But my spoken French did not improve at all. So this time I'm not going to focus on academics too much and I'm really going to try to make friends and talk to people. Even if my Japanese isn't the best, I want to just go talk to as many people as I can. In France, I only talked to the people whose countries interested me, and with that, I sort of limited myself from the start. It wasn't a good mentality because I missed out on making friends with some people, who I think I would have loved to keep in touch with, and whose countries interest me a lot more now. So I think I learned from that to not let your prejudice limit yourself and just go talk to whoever without letting any past impressions of things really limit what you do in the present.
Tyler, 2nd year, USA)