Why did you choose this program?
I chose USAC's Nagasaki program because they offered a lot of classes that I wanted to take. Teaching Foreign Languages, Peace Studies, International Relations, Traditional Arts, and Martial Arts sounded like amazing, once-in-a-lifetime classes to take in Japan. The location was also very important to me. I didn't want to go to a big city and I knew that I wanted to be surrounded by nature. Nagasaki has so many mountains and hills. It's such a beautiful place. It was also the most affordable of USAC's Japan program options.
What did your program provider (or university) assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?
USAC helped with a lot of the paperwork process. They had a few webinars. One was for understanding the visa process. They gave us some online guides on how to do stuff, like how to prepare for the flight, health and safety stuff, and how to adjust once you're finally abroad. USAC also gives out scholarships if you apply on their website. I ended up being given $2,500 in scholarship money from them.
All I really did on my own was fill out the forms/applications, mail out the visa application, and book my flight.
What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?
If you plan to come to Nagasaki University of Foreign Studies, then I have two pieces of advice for you. The first is to save up as much as possible. Even though everything is much more affordable in Japan, you will end up going out a lot with friends and the money adds up fast. My second piece of advice is to make as many friends as you can within the first week or two of being here. That is when everyone is very social. People form their groups fast, so don't be shy. If you are too shy to start a conversation, just sit somewhere alone on campus, and right away, people will come up to you to talk.
What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?
An average school day is different for everyone here. But in general, classes for most start at either 1st or 2nd period. The classes work in a way that kind of makes it feel like high school. We have 6 periods but most of the classes end at 5th. 6th-period classes are really just for make-up classes. Classes are an hour and a half each. Students in our program usually have about 1-3 classes per day. Language classes are twice per week. For other semesters they have been four times per week. When we're not in classes or doing homework, we are usually exploring and/or out with friends.
Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?
Honestly, one of my biggest fears was just getting here. I have a huge fear of airports (not airplanes) because there are so many things that can go wrong. Once I finally got to Japan, though, I was completely fine. Somehow, nothing had gone too wrong. Looking back, I think it was a good thing to worry about, but not to the extent of how much I was worrying. Now my biggest fear is the thought of going back to the U.S. I love it here so much that I hate the thought of myself willingly going back by the time my visa is up.
Do you feel homesick?
No. I only miss two things, which are my dog and my best friend. I can FaceTime my friend, though. We even have plans for her to come to Japan at the end of this semester so that we can travel around the country. But I can't do that with my dog.
My point is that a lot of the other people in my program are pretty homesick. But I'm not. So, if you're really close to your family then, yeah, you will probably really miss them. But if you don't have much that you're leaving behind for a semester or two, then you shouldn't have to worry too much about it. Plus, you can always Facetime or message them.