"My most memorable time abroad was a group Mt.Fuji trip, that was where I was really able to bond with my language buddies and enjoy Japan's scenic view. I specifically remember looking at Mt.Fuji from a village nearby, the clouds were just dissipating from the apex as we arrived at the Fuji ninja village. It was an amazing sight."
I wanted to try something new and get out of my comfort zone. I have lived in Asia before, but never Japan, so I thought it would be an interesting experience to live in a country where I have no language and cultural experience in. The program I participated in also has ties to my major with regards to international relations & law.
One of the most interesting cultural experience I had in Japan was seeing how they run restaurants. Most restaurants use a vending machine-ticketing system in order to ensure near 100% reliability in terms of making sure the customer pays and receives what they order. In addition, most of the staff I encounter treat foreigners with the utmost respect and dignity. It really made me appreciate Japan's hospitality.
My biggest concern was interacting in an environment where I don't speak the language, I was afraid it would discourage me from going outside. However, with the help of my friends whom were native Japanese speakers. They taught me hands-on Japanese with regards to how to properly greet and ask for things.
My typical school-day abroad is waking up by 7:30 am for the dorm breakfast and take the 8:30 bus from Totsuka station to the university. Classes usually last for 1 hr and 30 min each period. After two periods, I would meet up with my friends at the international lounge to eat lunch at the University cafeteria. The food is quite delicious for what you pay for and is made fresh. On some days, my classes will last till late afternoon. On those days where I end earlier than evening time, I would take the 30 min walk back home where I can enjoy the fresh air and view. I usually go out to eat dinner so I can enjoy more of the local cuisine, and at night I would sometimes be at the study lounge to socialize with some of my friends and play some games.
I took a beginners Japanese language course, two UC courses (talks about Japanese culture and politics) taught by a UCR professor, and an international law class taught by a local uni professor. The courses were similar in terms of grading, where each class is assigned 2-3 papers and a presentation for the semester. Presentations are more common at my host abroad university than Berkeley. In terms of workload, my Berkeley legal studies courses does have more concrete readings.
My most memorable time abroad was a group Mt.Fuji trip, that was where I was really able to bond with my language buddies and enjoy Japan's scenic view. I specifically remember looking at Mt.Fuji from a village nearby, the clouds were just dissipating from the apex as we arrived at the Fuji ninja village. It was an amazing sight.
I feel like my CQ (Cultural Intelligence Quotient) have increased. I learned how to set my biases and stereotypes aside, and experience the country with an open mind. I trained myself how to be more patient with people (especially with the language barrier) as well as be a good listener.
I would recommend people not be discouraged by their lack of language experience when considering this abroad program, people who can only speak English like me can get by just fine in Japan. And cost of living in my opinion is a bit better than Berkeley standards, there is a scholarship program called JASSO which can be easily applied to anyone. Don't stay locked in your comfort zone, there is so much more to experience out there than just Berkeley!