Lindsay Pringle, a senior from Central Michigan University and a student on the 2016 fall semester Language & Culture program, spoke with us about her experiences with study abroad. In this installment, she discusses her motivation for going to Japan, including why JCMU was a good fit for her.
My motivation for studying in Japan was kind of a long, multifaceted process. I have wanted to travel to Japan since I was very young. In all honesty, what first made me interested was Japanese animation, or anime. A lot of cultural values are depicted in the often profound stories of Japanese anime and I took a lot of the life lessons in these stories to heart. My admiration for Japan grew when I took a Japanese Religion class at Central Michigan University. I enjoyed learning about both Shintoism and Buddhism and how Shinto beliefs influence Japanese society still today. Japan is a place of ritual and structure and it was very interesting to learn the influence behind this processes. For example, if you go to a Shinto shrine, the first thing you will most likely see is a large red gate or a Torii gate. This symbolizes the transition to a sacred place. You should bow before entering to show your respect and avoid walking in the center, as it is where the deity passes. Before entering, there is a place to wash your hands and mouth. By doing this, you are purifying yourself before approaching the kami (or gods). I was happy to have learned many rituals like these when I got the chance to visit Fushimi Inari Shrine in Japan. Traditions are held very dearly to the people of Japan and you can see pride in their culture wherever you go.
Another reason I chose to study in Japan was tied to my major. As a dietetics student, the longevity of the Japanese people is exceptionally intriguing. According the World Health Organization, Japanese women have the highest life expectancy in the world. With obesity becoming more and more prevalent in America, it is also hard to ignore how rare it is to see an overweight person in Japan. I was very interested in coming to Japan to explore what role their diets, healthcare system, and lifestyle played in this. Also, with the next Olympic Games being held in Tokyo in 2020, JCMU’s intensive Japanese language program was something I knew would help me reach my next goal of working with athletes or other dietitians in the Tokyo Olympics.
I chose to participate in the fall semester instead of the year, only because I did not think I could afford to stay here without being able to work during that time. After being at JCMU now for about two months I really wish I could have stayed for the year. Students learn Japanese at an accelerated rate in this program and I think I would have really benefited from another semester before reaching my goal of returning to Japan for the Olympics.
We would like to thank Lindsay for talking to us about why she decided to study abroad in Hikone, and hope that her story resonates with many others considering JCMU. In the next installment, which will be posted on November 29th, Lindsay discusses her experiences traveling to Japan and living in Hikone, so check back then!