Fencing in Kyoto
How did you live your study?
I participated in the fencing club at Doshisha University while I was studying abroad in Kyoto. This really helped me get out of my comfort zone. I learned a lot about the language required to navigate the complex social rules found in Japanese sports clubs. It was also eye-opening to find that through the sport of fencing, I was able to easily connect with and understand people from a totally different culture. This experience also inspired me to do a research project this past summer about fencing in Japan.
How have you changed because of your time abroad?
I am much more outgoing and confident in both English-speaking and Japanese-speaking environments. I'm also much more adventurous in general, with a greater desire to travel, explore new places, and meet new people. Speaking of travel, I'm also much better at dealing with sudden issues with travel plans, since I figure that if I can deal with it in Japanese I can do it in English, too.
Finally, I think I came away with a much better understanding of phrases like "foreign culture" and "international." What I mean by this is that, while people often talk about "cultural differences,” I feel that I have a very personal feeling for the distance implied by that gap, but also the value of friendships you can find by bridging those gaps.
What recommendations do you have for students who are thinking about studying abroad?
I highly recommend that students who go abroad get involved in a local community for something they are passionate about. It was easily the most memorable part of study abroad for me.