My study abroad experience at Kansai Gaidai University had a huge influence on my professional life. I came to College of Charleston with the goal of becoming an ESL/EFL teacher in Japan. College of Charleston’s amazing Japanese studies program and study abroad opportunities were very attractive to me. Before studying abroad on CofC’s program with Kansai Gaidai University, I took 3-4 semesters of Japanese to prepare. Kansai Gaidai is a great location for students to experience some of the most exciting and interesting aspects of Japanese culture. It is located in Osaka, Japan and many areas of kansai (Kyoto, Kobe, Nara, ect.) are very accessible. During my study abroad experience, I fell deeper in love with the different culture and society that I was immersed in. After studying abroad I was 100% certain that I was ready to pursue my dream! During the beginning of my senior year at CofC I applied to the JET program. I was accepted into JET and expressed my love for Osaka and the Kansai area. Currently, I am an ALT at an academic senior high school in Kobe, Japan. Since I graduated in 2019, I am still in my first year of JET and have a lot to learn! Although I worked very hard for my dream, I feel extremely lucky that the odds worked out in my favor and I love my life in Japan! My study abroad experience fueled my desire to realize my dream.
Now, I am using many of the skills that I learned while studying abroad. Maybe the most important skill was learning to understand and cope with culture shock in a healthy way. There are massive differences between visiting, studying, and living abroad in a foreign country. Despite this, many methods of handling culture shock that I learned from my peers during study abroad continue to help me today. I feel it is important to remember that different countries have different ideologies and beliefs, and as Americans we have the opportunity to be ‘cultural ambassadors’ abroad. Even if there are times we disagree with something, we should always evaluate the situation from the opposite parties’ perspective. And if appropriate, have healthy discussions and dialogue about cultural differences.