Study Away Experiences
Kim Lacey '13
The JET program's CIR (Coordinator for International Relations) position immediately caught my attention because it provides invaluable experience for those who are considering pursuing a career in international relations in the future, with total language immersion. I have been interested in Japanese language and culture since sophomore year at Bowdoin, even though my major is Eurasian and East European Studies. Compared to the JET program's ALT (Assistant Language Teacher) position, the number of CIR is limited to less than 5% of the entire participants from the U.S. . In addition, advanced Japanese language skill is mandatory for the position, which later serves as one of the important criteria during the interview stage.
While preparing my application, I had a little bit of difficulty identifying what kind of candidates the JET program is looking for, since little information could be found regarding CIR position. However, I believe that studying abroad for a whole year in Moscow, on top of various internship and volunteering experience strengthened my essay. I am also thankful for my academic advisor and Japanese professor for writing me recommendation letters and giving me helpful advice. The second stage of interview in Boston was especially challenging because I was asked several sensitive questions. I also had to take a written test which required me to read many difficult Kanji characters. Although I felt quite anxious about how I had performed on both stages, I successfully passed all stages and received the CIR position.
I am truly excited for this wonderful opportunity and eagerly looking forward to what the future holds for me in Japan. I will do my best to make the most of my time there and prepare myself to become a foreign service officer in the future.
Ruiqi Tang '13
Having spent five years of her childhood in Nagoya, I am thrilled to return to Japan through the JET program as an Assistant Language Teaching (ALT). Funded by the Global Citizens Grant, I taught English at a school serving abandoned Tibetan girls during the summer of 2010. My 12 weeks living and working in a Tibetan village sparked an interest in education, women’s empowerment, and development. Graduating as a Gender and Women’s Studies major, I am excited to learn about Japanese schools, live in a rural Japanese community, and improve my language skills.
Julianne Farrar '13
Studied at Doshisha University in Kyoto, Japan for 2011-2012 academic year
Over the 2011-2012 academic year, I studied abroad in Kyoto, Japan. Since I was in Kyoto from early September through early May, I experienced much more than a single school semester in the wonderful city where I attended my university. I was in Japan for numerous vacations, parts of all four seasons, and saw the coming and going of a bunch of Japanese celebrations and holidays. I am glad to say that I was able to experience almost all of what I thought I wanted to, and beyond. Of course going abroad leads you to places that you never knew existed. One of my favorite memories is taking a walk through ancient Nara (whose religious structures are some of the oldest in the world) expecting a peaceful day, only to be bombarded by droves of hungry deer who pester you for crackers sold by street vendors. It's hard to pick a favorite memory, though. Through a friend who performed live music regularly in coffee house-style venues during my stay, I participated in a few live performances with Japanese friends I met while in Kyoto and Osaka. I saw the nation-wide coming of age day where those who turned twenty in the past year dressed up in their fanciest kimono and attended special local ceremonies, parading around afterwards in shopping districts and neighborhoods with proud parents and friends at their side. I took a traditional Japanese dance class and got to wear my own kimono - borrowed from my world-famous dance sensei. And of course, I got to know two very kind and special people while I was there: my host parents. I can't imagine any other kind of study abroad experience, because mine was so unique and life-changing, just as I'm sure someone who studied in Europe or South America might not be able to imagine one like mine. What I do know is that studying in Japan, and Kyoto especially, was an eye-opening experience in terms of understanding different cultural values, customs, and ways of life. That being said, it was also a really fun way to spend eight months! Blog: julianneinjapan.wordpress.com
Willem Bogardus '13
I spent my junior year studying at Waseda University in Tokyo, Japan. My time abroad was definitely the most productive way possible to advance my Japanese ability, and I have come out far more confident as a Japanese speaker, reader, and writer. I was able to take intensive Japanese courses as well as kanji and grammar electives throughout my time at Waseda. Just as valuable, I joined the jazz and squash circles at Waseda as the only foreign student. Student circles are an extremely important part of japanese student life, and they provided a great opportunity to practice my casual Japanese with people my age. However, probably the best Japanese practice I got during my year abroad was with my host family. My host mother would cook amazing dinners every day, and I would sit around the table with my host parents and brother for a couple hours every day discussing Japanese culture, politics, tv shows, and just about anything else.
Living in Tokyo gave me countless other opportunities to practice my Japanese outside the classroom. Whether it was trying to understand the advertisements and announcements on the subway every day, or ordering indecipherable items off the menu of a hidden yakitori shop, I was constantly able to push myself. I was also able to travel around Japan to places like Kyoto, Hiroshima, and Fukushima to get a taste of what teh rest of the country is like (the answer is very different than Tokyo). Japan may be a little intimidating at first, but I couldn't recommend living there, as well as studying at Waseda, any more.
Mai Kristofferson '13
I spent my Junior year studying at Waseda University in the heart of Tokyo, Japan. I enrolled in a program through the School of International Liberal Studies and the Center for Japanese Learning (CIJL), which enabled me to study both Comparative Government and advanced Japanese. The breadth and depth of courses offered at CIJL helped me tailor my curriculum to meet my specific interests of study-- everything from Onomatopoeia to Traditional Japanese Literature. By my second semester I was also able to enroll in open-education courses (in Japanese) to study alongside Japanese students from all different majors at the University. Meanwhile, city life exposed me to countless thrills and new adventures. Yet, with the stellar train system I also traveled beyond Tokyo to historic Kyoto and the famous hot springs in Hakone. Needless to say, I am thrilled with my choice.
In the Spring, I was also invited to intern in the Gender-Equality division at Nihon Rengo, a Japanese labor union conglomerate and political think-tank. Navigating a Japanese working environment and communicating entirely in Japanese were both part of the challenge. Living in Japan had opened my eyes to differences in attitude toward between the US and Japan. Over the course of my stay, I became increasingly interested in Japanese gender-equality legislation and female empowerment. The internship at Rengo began with learning about the organization but led to exactly what I had hoped—diving into Japanese by reading and researching Japanese legislation and public documents. To top it all off, this research will undoubtedly benefit my personal research in an upcoming independent study I have planned for Senior year.