By Ayumi Yoshihama |Staff Writer|
There are many different countries you can choose from the Study Abroad programs at CSUSB that the World Language Department offers.
One of the programs offers students the opportunity to study overseas in Japan.
I interviewed Christopher Garcia, a CSUSB alumnus with an international business degree, who is currently working in Japan.
He went to study abroad in Japan during Spring 2012 after he found out about the program from one of his classes.
The Study Abroad program was for students to improve Japanese language skills and obtain credits for their degree.
He was interested in Japanese culture, had been studying the Japanese language for a few years, and had Japanese friends on the CSUSB campus before he went.
“I just felt like I had to go,” said Garcia.
He studied at Aoyama Gakuin University for five months in Tokyo, and stayed at a dorm in a smaller city called Hiyoshi, a 25 minute train ride from the campus.
His first impression of Japan was good because they were so nice and made him feel very safe; however, he felt people in Tokyo were always rushed and looked really busy.
It was understandable since Tokyo is such a huge and crowded city.
He enjoyed living there and said that it has never a boring place.
There was an exciting nightlife, with many things to do, such as going to a nice restaurant, coffee shop, bar, karaoke, or arcade.
In Tokyo, some bars and most karaoke places are open until morning, when the first train departs.
One negative aspect that Garcia observed was the lack of personal space in crowded, public places.
“Particularly, on the train during rush hours. Let’s just say you are up close and personal with a bunch of people you don’t know,” said Garcia.
There were some cultural differences between Japanese and Americans that he discovered while he stayed there.
Japanese people are more likely to be more reserved and avoid conflict; they may passively go with someone’s ideas or invitations, because saying “no” to someone could come off as rude.
Also, respect and tradition are more admirable and sought after in Japanese society.
One thing that Garcia liked about this program was the support for international students at the university.
They helped him as much as possible whenever he needed.
The only thing that Garcia was not a fan of was the dorm food, which he considered to be a little pricy and served at inconvenient times.
His Japanese improved from a conversational level to an intermediate level during his time overseas; the Study Abroad program was truly a life-changing experience for Garcia.
“When you live in another country, especially one that has a different social dynamic from your home country, it really gives you a new perspective on how you make decisions and live your life,” said Garcia.
He recommends that other students take advantage of the Study Abroad program.
“Absolutely! Not just recommend. You HAVE to go!” said Garcia.
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