Alumni Spotlight: Robert McIver

Robert is a 21-year-old student from Reno, Nevada who was participating in the Hiroshima Fall program from September to February. He is studying at the University of Nevada as a dual degree in Criminal Justice and International Relations as well as two minors in Japanese and Asian Studies. After graduation he hopes to do something either diplomatic or something involving international law- anything utilizing his Japanese language!

Meet Robert

Why did you decide to study abroad with USAC?

Robert: I’ve always been interested in studying abroad since the first time I met my friends from France and Finland in High School. Even more so, when I started studying the Japanese language and absolutely fell in love with it, I found myself gravitating towards the idea of studying abroad in Japan. Luckily at my University, I saw many flyers and promotions for USAC and not long after started to seriously consider traveling abroad with them. They helped me every step of the way and proved to be incredibly dependable. I really can’t thank them enough for introducing me to an unforgettable experience.

Tell us about an experience you had that you could not have had at home.

Robert: I experienced what it is like to be a foreigner in a country where you barely speak the language and look different from everyone else. It’s also the idea that at times I was left to my own devices and that I must rely on my knowledge of the Japanese language to get back home that truly was an exhilarating experience that could not be found at home.

One time, I got myself lost on the train, since in Reno we don’t use trains for public transportation, and had to use my Japanese to find my way back. I believe this is not an experience I could ever find in Nevada, much less the country, as it can only be found abroad.

Tell us about any interesting cultural tidbits you noticed about your country.

Robert: A lot of things about Japan are so different than America - such as during track and field practice, we as a team would begin by sweeping or removing weeds from the track, which is completely unheard of in the US. I found the bow as a very interesting thing as the degree of respect given to another person can be measure by the angle in which someone bends their body. Or that their language has specific words used for speaking to people who are higher or lower than you in status. The Japanese culture is so respectful and disciplined, I encourage everyone to participate in many of the available sport and clubs available. Especially the culturally charged ones like archery, kendo, or even tea ceremony.

Robert and Friends in Japan

Describe your program socially and academically.

Robert: In the USAC Hiroshima Program, I enjoyed what it really meant to be a student by being able to focus 100% on my language and see directly how my progress improves with my language proficiency. It was definitely a constant attainment of gratification as I could delve deeper and deeper in conversation with the local populace. I truly felt like I was improving in an academic way for the first time as opposed to core course at the university or high school where it was “just get it done courses.” The fellow students will go out of their way to help you and will become some of the closest friends you will make in this program. My boss for my job as well as all the teachers and the staff of the University are some of the kindest people I have met in a long time. It truly makes one nostalgic and dream of being back there again.