Jake Biros, a Junior studying Chemical Engineering , Japanese, and Spanish, writes about his experience as an exchange student in Japan. Jake is studying in Kansai Gaidai University in Hirakata, Japan through a Reciprocal Exchange program. His exchange has been during Fall 2010. Read what Jake has to say about Japan!
It is hard to choose a good starting point for a paper about my experiences in Japan. I guess the first thing I would like to say is that I have yet to see any Ninjas yet (with the exception of the people that work in the Ninja Café). I am going to stray far away from the point that everyone makes about how it changes your life when you go abroad and you learn languages and become one with a foreign culture. That is definitely true, but I haven’t come back yet so rather than talking about that I am going to talk about fun and interesting stuff about living here in Japan. We can save the deep, life changing experiences part for when I come back to the United States.
Naturally, we have all heard rumors about the toilets with what amounts to a small computer attached to them and the vending machines on every street corner that have all sorts of things in them. That stuff is for the most part true, and it does happen to be one of the parts of Japan that I really enjoy. By the way, there is just something nice about being able to buy a beer out of a vending machine without having to talk to anybody or do anything besides press a button. Other things that you can’t miss out on while you are in Japan are riding the bullet train, watching grandmas with colored (we are talking blue, red, purple and pink) walk around town, riding bicycles where no American would dare to ride, eating weird foods like fermented soy beans, and seeing some ridiculous innovation every time you go into a department store. It all makes for a very exciting day to day experience.
More important than the cool things that I have seen are probably the awesome experiences I have had. I have listened to an atomic bomb survivor, which gives you the greatest respect for the Japanese, especially the citizens of Hiroshima. I have practiced martial arts with other college students my age, and seen the hierarchy of upper and lower classmen. I have lived a Japanese lifestyle, eating Japanese food, sleeping on a futon, riding a bike for transportation, and speaking Japanese with my friends and host family. I have even gotten good at defending my country in debates with other people that like to think that the United States is a bunch of uneducated, impolite jerks that think they are number one and that everyone around them speaks English. It’s kind of true though (I would insert an “lol” or a “haha” here but for some reason it just seems less than appropriate, so understand that I am just joking).
I already know that coming back to the United States is going to be a hard thing for me. I love it here. However, I choose not to dwell on it too much, because as I just explained, there are too many fun things to enjoy here in Japan. Do your research and find the location that is perfect for you. I can guarantee that no matter where you go you will have experiences that are just as interesting, if not more interesting than mine. If you settle on Japan, hit me up. Be careful though, I will talk your ear off! In the mean time I wish you luck with your decision on where you want to go.
To read more about Jake’s time in Japan, check out his blog at http://jakestravelsinjapan.blogspot.com/