Every year, many Sophia University students study abroad in countries all over the world outside of Japan. How did they manage to find their way through the differences in languages, cultures, and lifestyles? Here are some voices of students who studied abroad.
I completed my exchange program at the University of Montana in the US. I was sometimes puzzled by the difference in people’s mindset toward COVID-19 since the state of Montana had a large number of the population who were against the vaccine.
I was also surprised by differences in the “norm” between Japan and the US. “Reach out” often means to be in touch with someone. However, I feel it also contains the nuance of “reaching one’s hand out to others.” Let me explain this. In Japan, people around you may sense and help you without a word when there is a problem. Being silent can mean a lot as the proverb says, “Silence is golden.” However, during my exchange, problems were never solved, or even recognized, if I did not speak up. I pushed myself so hard and decided to “reach out” as I was not willing to waste my program. I was very anxious and would even cry, but my teacher and friends encouraged and helped me any way they could. It was such a valuable experience for me to realize the importance of “reaching out.”
It was a privilege to have such a wonderful experience that made me believe acknowledging a new cultural “norm” may change my future drastically.