Why did you decide to study abroad with CET?
Amelia: CET was just the best fit for me, and the cost of the program was much more affordable for me and my family.The timeframe of it even allowed for some freedom during the summer before and after my stay. CET stresses academics, and I wanted a program where I would really learn Japanese and be immersed in it, so the language pledge-while daunting- was great for me. Due to the intensity of the program, it was also fortunate that is counted for 2 semesters of Japanese class at my university, and had the full approval from my professors. I also really liked the unique living set-up, where you resided with a Japanese roommate near campus, as opposed to homestay or on-campus living.
Tell us about any interesting cultural tidbits you noticed about your country.
Amelia: There are so many interesting tidbits about Japan, that it would be hard to list them all. One of them is that free, public Wi-fi isn’t as easily available as it is in America. Most people have Internet service through their phones, so free public Wi-fi isn’t needed as often. Another tidbit is that energy use is very conservative. Even in the dead of summer, air conditioner use is very scant in comparison to America. Recycling is also quite serious, as trash is categorized in a fairly methodical and strict manner. Food-wise,to my amazement mayonnaise-specifically, Kewpie mayonnaise- is an extremely popular condiment on everything from fried foods and pizza to vegetables. It’s smoother and lighter than mayo in the U.S., and I really grew to like it.
If you could do-over one thing, what would it be?
Amelia: I have few regrets, but one of them is not visiting Osaka Aquarium when I had the chance. It is one of the largest public aquariums in the world, and holds a whale shark and manta rays.
Describe your most meaningful souvenir and why you love it?
Amelia: I did not buy many meaningful souvenirs, but one meaningful gift I received was a package of flash cards on Japanese marine life. My roommate’s mother gave it to me as I left our beachside campsite for the Marine Day holiday weekend. I really got to bond with my roommate and her family, and experience many new things. I had never camped before, nor had I ever eaten a few of the things they had fished from the ocean nearby. I also got to experience nature at its best and worst, and the flashcards were a colorful and informative token from that memorable time.
Did you run into a language barrier while studying abroad with CET?
Amelia: As most Japanese are monolingual speakers, and I was under CET’s language pledge, I did have quite a learning curve to overcome in communication. A few times I had to rely on more proficient friends to communicate ideas I had a difficult time forming in Japanese, but all in all, I did fine. Everyone was so polite and patient with me, that even when I fumbled they were determined to help me if I asked. Even though I studied Japanese for 3 years/6 semesters prior to the doing the program, I felt very insecure in my abilities when I first arrived. With time, my confidence grew and I discovered that I knew more of the language than I thought, and I became much more comfortable speaking it to random strangers.