It’s not easy to adjust to a new culture. It isn’t always easy to get by in the country where you are studying abroad either, but it is important that you try. I was fortunate enough to study abroad for 6 months this past year in Japan and learned many things about myself – who I am, what I want out of life, and how much more open-minded I can be. Living in another country forces you into an unfamiliar situation which can be difficult at first; however, if we learn from these situations rather than running away from them they will make us more adaptable people with greater knowledge about ourselves and our world.”
Learn to embrace the new:
When I first arrived in Japan, everything was so different from what I was used to. The language, culture, and customs were all unfamiliar to me and it was difficult trying to adapt. However, if I had not embraced these differences I would have missed out on so many wonderful experiences and lessons. There are always going to be things that are difficult to learn, but if you try and accept them rather than run away from the situation, it will make your life much more meaningful.”
Learn how to get by:
One of my favorite words in Japanese is “tsukiau,” which means “to use”. When I first arrived in Japan, I felt lost and didn’t know how to get by. However, after a while I learned that if I used the resources around me – the people, the internet, etc. – I would be able to survive in this new country. The same is true for any new situation you may find yourself in; don’t be afraid to ask around or look online for answers. You’ll be surprised how much you can learn from your peers, family members, or friends.
Learn to see things differently:
I think that one of the most important lessons I’ve learned is to look at life in a different way. For example, when people ask me what my favorite thing about Japan was and I say that it’s the people, they don’t understand. Japanese culture is very different from American culture and their way of thinking can be hard to grasp at first. However, what I mean when I say that my favorite part about living in Japan was the people is that after being with them for so long I learned how to see things differently through their eyes. I think that this is an important lesson for all of us; to be able to see things from another person’s perspective, no matter how different it may be from our own.
Living in a foreign country can be difficult at first, but if you open your mind and embrace the new experiences you will find yourself becoming a more adaptable person. I encourage all of you to take the plunge and study abroad – it will be one of the best decisions you ever make!