Looking back on my year-long time in Tokyo, I can honestly say that I learned more in those 365 days then I did in my entire life.
But getting the most out of study abroad is about how much you put into your experience, which means it’s not for everybody. Study abroad is for the student who is willing to live outside of his or her personal comfort zone and reach out to the people who live there.
Kareem (far right) and classmates, atop Mt. Fuji | KCP Flickr
I gave my study in the Land of the Rising Sun all I had . . . full immersion. I actually didn’t speak English at all for nearly 8 months! Initially, that is the most trying thing about living in another country—the language barrier.
Since I was determined to understand everyone, I spent nearly 2 months nodding my head “yes” to everything said to me (with an occasional “no” when it looked like trouble). I decided not to speak English at all, even if it meant a headache here and there. I volunteered wherever I could; went on trips with Japanese friends; joined many cultural events—kabuki, calligraphy, karate, sadou (tea ceremony); and even climbed Mount Fuji, twice!
Tea ceremony at KCP | KCP Flickr
Eventually it all paid off. My host family, as well as the many friends I made, gave me credit for my effort, and that led to much deeper, more meaningful relationships. That is the real goal of study abroad, I believe: to form deep and insightful relationships with people from other countries, causing one to grow inwardly and interpersonally. I recommend KCP study abroad to those who are willing to reach down deep within to gain a better understanding of the global village.