The year I spent in the US was long and short, short and long, and I learned many things that were invaluable. It was not an easy study abroad experience that can be summed up in one word, such as “fun” or “tough”, and there were as many hard times as there were fun times. But I am proud of myself now that I overcame all difficultiesl and came back to Japan. Looking back, there are two major things that have changed in me through one year of studying abroad: breadth of perspective and perseverance.

The US is often referred to as a “melting pot” or “salad bowl” of races. One of the reasons I could broaden my perspective during my stay was because I was able to see that each person had a different background, valued different things, but lived with tolerance and acceptance of those differences. For me, going to school means emphasizing study; it was just natural for me to prioritize academics first over play or club activities. But, just one step outside Japan and I saw that what I had taken for “natural” was not so in the rest of the world. The school I studied in was very active in sports, and most of my friends put studies on the back burner and worked hard on sports. Besides that, others put work first, family first, religion first, and so on, and although each lived according to their own values they still respected each other. It may seem quite obvious, but learning that there are people living in the world with such diverse ideas was an opportunity for me to broaden my perspective, and I think it was one of the great assets I gained from my study abroad experience.

Also, in living entirely in English and studying in a foreign school, what I needed to acquire was perseverance. I was anxious about leaving my comfort zone and being away from my parents, but I developed a mental strength by being in a tough environment. Although I was prepared for the fact that everything was not going to be easy, there was a time when I was extremely stressed because I could not keep up with classes, homework took until late at night, and I could not even understand what my friends were saying. But, because I endured that period when my English did not improve immediately or I had trouble even in communicating with people around me, I was able to feel my improvement in English after a few months. I realized firsthand that when you start something new, you may be frustrated at first since it does not go well, but if you persevere through the hard times your continued efforts will bear fruit.

One of my favorite quotes is from American author, Peter McWilliams: “Be willing to be uncomfortable. Be comfortable being uncomfortable.” I left Japan, bewildered by many differences, took Spanish class in English, tried sports I had never done before, and I continued to challenge myself with “something new for me” and not to stay in a comfortable situation during the past year. In retrospect, not everything was fun and exciting, but everything I experienced gave me confidence and made me stronger. I am very glad that I was able to participate in this studying abroad program. I appreciate the help from all those who supported me from departure to my return.










高校3年 H.K.

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