Boy, does time flies. It’s been more than six months since I came back from Japan and another semester had ended. Although I was once again up to my neck in science, Japan and its experience are still a part of me in more ways than one. Pacific has always been a big school in exchange programs and this year was no different. We host about 10 Japanese students among other countries as well. I teamed up with the International Club to host a welcoming outing for the students in the first month they were here. Shopping at and outlet mall and playing until midnight at a family-fun center where for many of them was the first time they drove…on a go-kart course. It was a strange yet nice feeling to be on the other end being the host now for these students when just months ago students like them were showing me around the streets of Japan.
Being part of the study-abroad alumni, the most important role is mentoring those who will soon be abroad where I was. It sadden me that there is only one student next spring instead of the gorup of 5 that was my semester. Nevertheless, we had a thorough Q&A session over the goods and bads, but mostly good. I stressed that you probably overestimate the amazing experience you’re going to have if you’re willing to immerse yourself in it, but please do budget your money because that was the downfall of several students.
Lastly, I had hoped to inspire students to think and plan about studying abroad, even if not to Japan because it is such a valuable experience that would enrich your life in so many ways. I was able to do a short presentation in one of my old sensei’s Japanese 201 class and I found it really difficult to sum up my experience of Japan in a few powerpoint slides. It simply didn’t do it justice, I literally could have sat there and story-told for hours. The main point that I was trying to get across to many of them is that it doesn’t matter how busy your schedule is, you can fit in a semester abroad, you just have to do a bit of planning ahead. I could see in the students in the class that many of them were interested but afraid of not graduating on time but hopefully I have persuade them that it’s doable because I don’t think there’s a more unrelated study course than biology and going to Japan and I did it.