Study Abroad Reflections: Nagoya

Alyssa Young at Nanzan University

My first experience studying in Japan was when I was fifteen and I spent my sophomore year of high school studying in Fukuoka, Japan. Then, last summer (2012), I went back to Japan for the first time since high school. I received two scholarships to fund my study abroad experience. One was the Bridging scholarship, and the other was the Pasona Internship Program Scholarship.

Through the Pasona Program, I had the opportunity to complete a summer-long internship at a well-known toy company in Tokyo, Japan. I learned about Japanese business-manners, work-culture, and business in general.

From Tokyo I went straight to Nagoya, Japan, where I studied for two semesters at Nanzan University, which is one of Dickinson’s programs. Actually, hearing about this program as a prospective student influenced my decision to choose Dickinson College. While I was there, I made the best of my experience. I entered the most challenging Japanese language classes, took a seminar with Japanese students, tried Japanese culture classes such as tea ceremony, and dabbled in club activities.

Instead of a homestay, I was placed into one of the dorms located next to campus. I was afraid that living in a dorm would give me less opportunity to speak Japanese, and more to speak English. As it turns out, I lived in a close community of foreign and Japanese students, who taught me a lot about how young Japanese people live. My roommates were Korean and Japanese, and we made dinner and spoke Japanese together every day. I could not be more thankful that I had the chance to live there.

While studying abroad at Nanzan, I also worked a part-time job a few days each week. I was ecstatic because the café I worked at was a place where I could work closely with Japanese people in a professional environment while challenging my own language ability. Furthermore, chatting with the local customers was my way of engaging the community.

The 12 months I spent in Japan taught me innumerable life lessons and skills. The key to study abroad is: always staying open to trying new things, realize that there are amazing opportunities for those who go looking for them, and to immerse oneself completely in the culture.

-Alyssa Young