Extraordinary Experiences in Hikone – Lisa Doan, 2016 Melville Scholar

Earlier this year, JCMU was able to open the first annual Harold Melville Memorial Scholarship competition! This endowment, which has been years in the making, allowed us to award two scholarships to students participating in our summer programs. Lisa Doan, a student on the 2016 Summer Intensive Language program and one of the Melville Scholarship recipients, spoke with us about her experiences in Japan and how receiving the scholarship helped her better utilize her time in Hikone.


My experience studying abroad in Japan taught me many things about Japanese culture as well as myself. Looking back to when I first arrived in Japan, I had a very limited knowledge in Japanese and was overcome with immense culture shock the moment I got off the plane. However, after a week I became accustomed to the Japanese lifestyle and found courage to try to interact with locals at the supermarket and restaurants. Moreover, the unique class style used at JCMU, adventures I had when traveling to different cities, and the people I met in Japan all contributed to making my study abroad experience one that I could not forget even if I tried. As a result, those experiences I had in Japan were some of my most precious memories I made during college and have also greatly helped prepare me for life after college.

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Although I did not formally take any Japanese classes prior to coming to JCMU, I wanted to make sure I was able to read and understand basic Japanese before getting to Japan. After intensively self-studying for a couple months prior to arriving in Japan, a grueling three hours to take a placement test, I surprisingly managed to place into the second level class. Initially, I had a hard time speaking Japanese but due to the intimate nature of the classes, it became much easier to speak Japanese. JCMU’s unique class format challenged me by encouraging me to use Japanese I was not comfortable with.

What I won’t be able to forget from my time spent in Hikone are all the people I was able to meet and talk with. I was fortunate enough to have a chance to spend a weekend the Nakagawa’s who were my host family. Staying with them let me take a peek inside the daily life of a Japanese household including learning about how to use a Japanese bath and meal time etiquette. Conversing with occasional Shiga University students that dropped by JCMU, I was able to share and learn about Japanese culture from people my age. I am grateful for the opportunities to practice my Japanese with them and in exchange practice speaking English and talking about American culture.

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With the help of [the Harold Melville Memorial Scholarship], my worries regarding financing my study abroad trip were notably eased. Because my financial burden was lightened, I was able to better perform at JCMU as well as enjoy my time in Hikone for nine weeks. After receiving this scholarship, I will continue to work hard in my studies and will find ways to help other students in similar financial positions such as myself.

My study abroad trip was an incredibly challenging yet rewarding experience. Adapting to a completely different culture while learning the language proved to be one of the biggest challenges I have faced in my life. In the future, I hope to work in an area where there are many diverse cultures while also being able to utilize my Japanese. Thus, my experiences abroad will help me adjust and adapt to the workplace after graduation. This program helped me learn more about Japanese culture, gave me a chance to interact with people of different backgrounds, and allowed me to grow independently.


We hope that you will consider making a charitable contribution to the Melville Memorial Scholarship Endowment in your year-end plans, and help boost us towards our goal and provide more scholarship funding for future JCMU students like Lisa. Information for contributors can be found on the JCMU website, and donations to the fund can be made by mail, by phone or online. In the years ahead, we look forward to awarding more scholarships that help to bring down the financial barriers of study abroad.

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