Carly Richardson studied abroad for a yearlong term in Nagasaki, Japan. We spoke with Carly about why she chose Nagasaki, her experience in Japan, and the benefits of studying abroad for a year.
Why did you choose to study abroad for a year?
I wanted to study abroad for a year because I didn’t have any experience with the Japanese language, so I wanted to get plenty of practice. I also felt like to really experience a culture I needed to be there more than just a couple of months. I have no regrets about my decision!
Why did you choose to study in Japan and what surprised you?
As a religious studies major, I chose Japan so I could learn about Buddhism and Shinto. I was surprised at how a lot of Japanese people I’ve met don’t consider themselves to be religious, but still do a lot of religious acts (such as going to a shrine or temple) because it is in their culture. I was also surprised at how respectful and considerate Japanese people are. Their kindness really made me feel at home when I first arrived in Japan.
Why do you believe studying abroad for a year is more beneficial than a single semester?
I think it is more beneficial to be here for a year because I was able to make more friends, study Japanese in an immersed environment for longer, and I feel like it has become my second home. Part of my heart will forever stay in Nagasaki.
What were some of your fears about studying abroad for a year? How did you overcome them while abroad?
I was really afraid of not knowing any of the language. I was able to overcome that fear slowly by working on my language and learning important words and phrases in Japanese from other students. I definitely relied heavily on my peers when I first arrived!
What did you learn about yourself during your time abroad?
I learned a lot about time management and goal following while I was here. Learning a new language is really tough, especially one so different from your first language. It takes a lot of work to get results, but everyone can get to the level they want if they try hard enough!
What was your favorite class and why?
My favorite class was definitely Japanese. I had Japanese classes 4 times a week, and this was necessary to really start learning it. The class works at a fast pace, but because of the constant Japanese being spoken around you, you get to hear your vocabulary and grammar points outside of class. And when you can first understand what someone is saying to you, it is a great feeling!
What advice do you have for students debating whether to study abroad for a year?
I would say if you have the financial means, it is absolutely a great thing to do for yourself! Being here for a year is such a privilege. This was the hardest year of my life because I was in a new place with a new language and new people, but it was also the best and most rewarding year of my life. I wouldn’t change this experience for anything.