Quincey went to Nagoya, Japan for a semester exchange in Fall 2019. She had never left Canada before and she decided to have an adventure. She wanted to experience another culture and travel while feeling safe and supported. Read about her experience!
Why did you choose your program and destination?
I had never been outside of Canada before and I wanted to be able to experience a country with a different culture and language, but also not feel so outplace that it was hard to enjoy the experience. I am an English language tutor and peer partner with uLethbridge's International Centre, where I have had about 5 different students over the past 3 years, which were all Japanese exchange students. The experiences gained by tutoring and being a peer partner eventually led to the development of friendships with some of the Japanese exchange students. The combination of first-time experience being abroad, learning about Japan through the International Centre's programs, and the friendships I developed solidified my decision of where I wanted to study abroad. I chose NUFS (Nagoya University of Foreign Studies) partially because I did want to travel and its location was conveniently between Tokyo, Osaka, and Kyoto. I also chose the program offered by NUFS because, in addition to classes in culture, history, and language, you had the option of cultural field trips like soba noodle making or a day trip to Nara. These options made it quite easy to chose NUFS as the university I would like to attend on my semester exchange
What was the most memorable experience of your time abroad?
I think that is a tie between the friends I made, both international and domestic, who came into my life at different points along the course of the semester exchange, and to be able to travel and explore but also to experience day-to-day life in Japan. The friends I made helped make the overall experience wonderful and the other part allowed for a better appreciation for the country itself, both from a short-term tourist perspective and a longer-term residence perspective.
Were there any challenges? How did you overcome or cope with them?
There were not a ton of challenges, though because English is my first language and I had never studied Japanese seriously before, it was difficult to navigate things that should be easy, but weren't because of the language barrier. I eventually learned basic phrases but also had friends that had more advanced Japanese who helped with bridging some of the gaps and made it a bit easier to navigate.
Has this education abroad experience helped you personally, academically or professionally?
I think this education abroad has helped me personally, academically, and professionally. Personally, it helped me be more outgoing and direct with people, and academically, I had to take courses outside of my degree, which allowed me to expand my knowledge and experiences in different disciplines.
Professionally, I gained skills you normally do not obtain until you are in an unfamiliar environment like intercultural awareness, better self-awareness, adaptability, and self-reliance.
What was your experience like when you returned home?
It was a mixed experience, I enjoyed my time in Japan and started to feel at home there, but I did know that it was temporary. When I came home it was nice to be back in Canada surrounded by familiar things I grew up with, but I also missed Japan, the experiences I had, and the friends I made. So I would say it was bitter-sweet.
If you could do it all over again, what would you do differently?
If I could do it all over again, I think I would try to travel a bit more and possibly study more Japanese in order to have more capacity to speak to others that did not speak English.
Would you recommend trying an education abroad program to other students?
I would most definitely recommend that students try an education abroad program if they are able to.
The experience of being in another country alone allows for a person to grow and develop in ways that are important in this day and age where life is very fast-paced and you need to learn to adapt quickly.