Alumni Spotlight: Tony Urbino


Give us a little intro!

Tony: Hi! I'm a recent University of Kentucky (Dec 2014) grad with a major in Japanese Language. I'm from Mission Viejo, CA and I love baseball, drawing, and flying and I am a huge Monster Hunter and Pokemon fan.

Why did you pick this program?

Tony: I picked CET not only because its intensive language program, but also because its location in Osaka. I've only gone to Tokyo before and I wanted to see more of Japan. But my ultimate goal was to immerse myself in the language

What do you wish someone had told you before you went abroad?

Tony: I wish someone would've told me about Air Bnb. If you want to make some short trips after or during your program and need a place to stay, this website/app is the way to go. I was able to rent an entire apartment to myself in Shibuya this past March for only $50 bucks a night. Totally beats a hotel.

What is the most important thing you learned abroad?

Tony: Being immersed in Japanese 24/7, I started to think and solve problems like a Japanese person would. Even though I am part Japanese myself, I grew to understand more deeply about my own culture and learned an entirely different dialect as well. (I also naturally speak like an Osakan now too)

What do you tell your friends who are thinking about going abroad?

Tony: DO IT. Why would you not want to go?! It's an experience you will never forget.

What was the hardest part about going abroad?

Tony: Probably budgeting while you're abroad. Constantly wanting to eat or buy stuff while not having a steady income can be pretty challenging.

What's your favorite story to tell about your time abroad?

Tony: One night, a whole bunch of us, Japanese and American, decided to go to the club one night. The trains in Japan close down at 1am and don't open up until 530am. We got out of the club around 2 and decided to go to Mcdonalds after. After my friends found me successfully getting a Japanese girl's number (whom I chased after out of Mcdonalds) we had to decide how we were going to get home.

Some decided to wait until the trains to open up, others decided to take a taxi. I decided to have a little ""bouken"" (adventure) and suggested we walk home. Only one other person said ""heck yes!"" and went on the 4 hour trek back home. (by the way, it would've been about a 30 min train ride)

Kyle and I had quite an adventure on hour walk back home. Taking in the city sights was amazing, not to mention the incredulous looks on peoples' faces when we asked which direction our destination was.

I never got tired in that entire 4 hour trek, but my feet did start hurting like crazy, but once i got home around 6am and got into the shower, the fatigue hit me like a freight train. Needless to say, once I jumped into bed, I instantly fell asleep for about 12 hours.

What made this experience unique and special?

Tony: CET had us under a strict language pledge, which ironically, when I had to speak English to help a random stranger, I actually had a hard time speaking English.

But not only that, this program paired us up with a Japanese National and we shared either an apartment or house, which forced us to use Japanese at home as well. We also spent a lot of time with our roommates and as a result, became amazing friends.

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

Tony: Getting intentionally lost in a culturally rich and naturally beautiful city in Kyoto, admiring temples, bamboo forests and the like.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

Tony: Live in the moment, and take every chance or opportunity to do something cool and make memories with your future friends. I can't tell you how many times i could have just slept in, but luckily some of friends convinced me otherwise.

What made this trip meaningful to you, or how did this trip change your perceptions, future path?

Tony: The sheer improvement in my language skills will definitely help me achieve my career goals (get based in Japan), but the friends and the memories i made with them are priceless and are things that I will never forget

Why go to Osaka?

Tony: In my opinion, Osaka is a lot more fun than Tokyo. I feel the people are way nicer and friendly to strangers in Osaka. Not only that, but the location is perfect. Kyoto, which is famous for its historic temples and natural beauty, is only an hour away by train. Kobe is also near by. Plus, it isn't too expensive to go to Tokyo (there are many options to getting there).