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All blog posts are by University of Michigan students who have participated in a CGIS program. The following blogs are students studying abroad in Japan.
Alyson reflects on her spring term in Tokyo
Coming from the perspective of someone who has taken Japanese for two years prior to the program, I was more than eager to come to Japan and view the country I’ve been studying for so long. I also viewed this program additionally as an opportunity to practice the language through my day-to-day interactions. However, I noticed that it is not so much the case—it’s rather the encounters I have are either people assuming I know no Japanese at all or speak with such fluency that it makes it difficult if not impossible for me to understand. Mostly the former, I guess it could be said that I am semi-frustrated with the progression (or lack thereof) of my language progress here, despite it only being about a week and a half. Thinking about it, it has mainly come from me being viewed in Japan automatically as a foreigner.
Karina reflects on her term in Japan
Over the past two days I have been inquired by 3 people about my box braids. Originating from African culture, braids have been a staple for many African and African American females like myself and even males in recent culture. The first encounter was when I went to get curry with some friends. As we left the restaurant there were a bunch older Japanese businessmen outside. One of them appeared to be inebriated. He approached me as I was on the outside of my group and he began flipping his own hair and pointing at mine. He was complementing me. Or at least he believed he was. In an instance, he proceeded to reach towards my hair and I immediately moved my head away from him and did a fake laugh. He was laughing and I appreciated the complement but the manner in which he went about trying to touch me.
Samantha reflects on her spring term in Japan
Today I went to the Owl Cafe with Halimia, Chris, and Gretchen. I have to say it was definitely one of the cooler experiences I have had in Japan upon my arrival. The owls were all very nice, easy to hold and pet. Their feathers were a lot softer than I thought. I had never seen an owl up close and personal before this experience.
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Daniel reflects on his year in Japan
When weighing reasons for whether or not to go abroad, one of the many benefits (and often downsides) of that is language. This of course isn’t the case for everyone, but more often than not, the country in which you are planning on going to speaks a language that, although you may have studied before, is one that you aren’t exactly comfortable communicating in. “I’m not good enough at the language yet, therefore it’s better for me not to go/I should not have come. The reality of the situation is this, you can study abroad at any language level (yes, even from zero).