First off, I want to welcome you to my blog! I will be posting all about my life living abroad, so if you are interested in hearing about all of the fun and exciting things I’ll be doing, look no further! For those of you who don’t know, starting in September 2017 I will be a first year student at Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University in Beppu, Japan.
I know a lot of the people who will be reading this blog have wondered, “why on earth do you want to go to college on the other side of the planet, to a country where you don’t even speak the language?”
And trust me, I get it. I asked myself the same question over and over again while I was researching and applying for schools. But while this certainly isn’t for everyone, I thought I would at least explain how I ended up deciding that it definitely was for me.
So settle in for the long, convoluted story of how I decided to move to Japan.
It all started the summer before my Junior year in high school, when my best friend Emma and I were panicking over the prospect of not spending the summer together for the first time in five years. We decided that the summer after our senior year, we would save up all our money and go on a trip somewhere foreign and exotic, just the two of us.
When we started listing places we could go, Japan immediately seemed like the perfect option. Neither of us knew very much about the country, so it would certainly be an adventure. It was also rated as one of the safest countries in the world, so it would be easier to convince our parents to let us go unaccompanied. Plus, we would be getting a good mix of both historic sites while also seeing the eclectic, ultra-modern version of Japan that most of us think of when the country comes up in conversation.
The only thing standing in our way was the language barrier; neither of us spoke a word of Japanese, but all of the articles we were reading told us that it would be difficult to get by in more rural areas without at least a basic knowledge of Japan. Because we didn’t want to restrict ourselves to just major cities, I decided that I could learn enough Japanese in the two years before a trip to get by.
I bought an app called Human Japanese (which I highly recommend) and got to work. Almost instantly, I was obsessed. I struggled when learning French in school, so I assumed that my Japanese learning would be just as painful, if not worse. However, I couldn’t have been more wrong. Maybe it was because I was learning of my own free will, but I absolutely adored studying Japanese. I even switched my phone’s language to Japanese, and it has been that way ever since. My friends and family thought I was possessed.
I spent every free moment (and some not free moments as well as my bio partners will remember) studying Japanese, to the point where I started considering studying the language for real in college. However, if I was going to commit to taking Japanese in college, I wanted to be sure that I could do a study abroad in Japan while still learning in English, because while I wanted the immersion experience I didn’t trust myself to know enough Japanese to take all my classes in Japanese.
So I googled “Universities in Japan taught in English,” and that was how I found out that there are plenty of schools in Japan taught entirely in English. The website I used, Univ. in Japan, is a great resource as you can filter all of the schools based on a number of different factors such as Japanese level, program start date, and possible majors.
Once I learned about these schools, I started considering applying to do my full undergrad in Japan. I had yet to find a school that I loved in the U.S., and the longer I looked at the schools in Japan the more I liked them. I could study the same things I could in America, but I would also be getting a unique cultural experience as well as becoming fluent in a foreign language. Plus, tuition in Japan is significantly cheaper than in the States, which helped convince my parents.
I will spare you from hearing about the process of choosing a school, (although I can do a later post on that if anyone is interested) but I ended up deciding to apply to Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University as my top choice. It had the program I wanted (Business), seemed very foreigner friendly, required no prior Japanese, and has an awesome location in Beppu.
And that is how I ended up going to school in Japan! Hopefully this answers any questions about why I have decided to do this, but if you have any more feel free to comment or contact me directly! I plan to post as often as possible about anything related to moving to and living in Japan, so you if you would like to get notifications about new posts from me, you can join my email list as well!