Where in the World is Miami Wednesday: Japan

By Megan Schulte, student study abroad ambassador

Sarah's host family in Japan.What program you are on: I am currently studying at Kandai Gaidai University located in Hirakata, Osaka Prefecture, Japan.

If it’s a Miami or Third-Party program: It is a Miami Exchange Program.

What you are studying with your program: I am part of the Asian Studies Program which allows me to take a variety of courses. I am taking a total of 17 credit hours. Eight of those hours are classes taught in Japanese to hone conversational and writing (Kanji) skills. The other 9 hours are classes taught in English:

  • International Negotiations,
  • Japanese Early Modern and Modern History,
  • and East Asian Political Economies.

Why you chose the program that you did: I chose this program for several reasons, the main one being its exceptional language program. I came to Japan with the primary goal of learning Japanese, and Kansai Gaidai has skilled Japanese teachers, rigorous coursework, a homestay option, and programs that introduce you to local Japanese students. Because Kansai Gaidai has one of the largest study abroad programs in Japan, many Japanese students come here with the goal of learning English so making friends with local students is very easy.

Japanese structure with tall columns.Coolest place/thing that you have done so far: It is hard to pick one cool thing I have done, because everyday is a new, exciting adventure. A few days ago, I spent the day in Kobe with my speaking partner, Risa, and we had an amazing time together. What made it truly special was that Kobe is Risa’s hometown so I got an insider’s look into what the city is really like. We visited a famous suspension bridge (Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge), but it was so windy out we physically had trouble walking toward it. At one point my hat blew away and we chased it down the street for what seemed like forever. That is a memory I will never forget.

Favorite part about the program: My favorite part of the program is the many opportunities they provide to get to know Kansai Gaidai students. For example you can sign up for mini day trips led by Japanese students which gives you the opportunity to meet new people and explore the areas surrounding Kansai Gaidai. The other day I went to a local fish cake making class.

Traditional Japanese food.How study abroad has affected/changed you so far: I was already a fairly independent person before studying abroad so I don’t think I have changed much in that respect. The Japanese culture, however, is definitely rubbing off on me. Aside from becoming more familiar with the language, I find myself apologizing and thanking everyone for every opportunity (Even when speaking in English with friends from back home!). Being humble, using “thank you” and “I’m sorry” to make yourself seem smaller and less important is part of Japanese culture. Often, these phrases are used together, “ Ah, arigatou, gomene!” (Ah, thanks, sorry).

Are you a Miami University student who's interested in an education abroad exchange program? There's a program through the University of Helsinki in Finland.
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