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How to Study Abroad in a Place Where You Don't Speak the Language

July 26, 2016

You may be intimidated to study in countries where your native language isn’t spoken. But don’t let that stop you! ISEP student Anne, an English major from Emporia State University, didn’t let a language barrier keep her from studying abroad at Toyo University. We asked Anne to tell us about her experience taking Japanese language and literature courses in Tokyo, Japan for an entire academic year — plenty of time to immerse herself in the culture and the language.

 

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Photo by ISEP student Thu D., who studied abroad in Japan

 

Q: How would you rate your Japanese language skill when you first started your program?

A:  I knew some Japanese but I wasn’t very good. Thankfully, the teachers at Toyo University were so kind and helpful in getting me comfortable with the language. I was also able to take other classes taught in English as well.

Q: What made you choose Toyo University?

A: Toyo has a Japanese class program specifically for beginner through intermediate levels. It is rare to find a school that teaches Japanese where I’m from.

 

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Anne enjoying dessert with friends

 

Q: Were you able to practice the language outside of the classroom?

A: Yes! I really encourage students to do what I did and get involved in a language circle (club) as soon as they get started with school. This will help you make friends outside the other exchange students. Keep in mind that there are some clubs on different Toyo campuses that accept members from the main campus too. For example, my Kyudo (Japanese archery) club was on a different campus because Hakusan campus did not have the room for the field. There’s always the English Community Zone to go to if you get stressed out about speaking Japanese. You can just go and hang out with friends and talk in English.

Q: What did you enjoy most about your year abroad in Toyo?

A: My favorite part about Toyo was that it is centrally located so I could get to a lot of places easily. I discovered there is so much to love about Japan!  The people are friendly and, despite what a lot of foreigners think, not all that shy. Also, the community at Toyo is great! The friendliness of the neighborhood around the dormitories was one of my favorite things about living there. Going out to the little shops out on the street and talking to the shopkeepers was a true test of my Japanese skill. It was a lot of fun!



Thanks for sharing, Anne! Toyo University offers classes in both English and Japanese. Ready to explore Japan? Learn more about Toyo University on the ISEP website and start your study abroad adventure.

An earlier version of this post was originally shared August 6, 2014.

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