Matthew Dziepak, 2013-14 Alum

JCMU offers Japanese language courses in Hikone that run throughout the year. This includes our longest program, the academic year Language & Culture program, where students stay in Japan for over 8 months! We reached out to Matthew Dziepak, an alumnus from Western Michigan University, about his year in Japan on the program.


What is your name, and what was your major?

My name is Matthew Dziepak and I was a Communications and Japanese Major at WMU.

Which JCMU program and year did you participate in?

I participated in the year long JCMU program from 2013-2014.

How did you find out about this program while you were at WMU?

I found out about the program from a previous participant of JCMU whom I was taking classes with at WMU. She praised it highly, so that meant a lot.

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What motivated you to study abroad at JCMU? Was it the location, the classes, or something else?

I was interested since they offered lower level Japanese study as I hadn’t progressed far enough to qualify for some of the other WMU study abroad programs. All of the extra events and trips made it more attractive as well.

The location was also very good since it offered a lot of things you wouldn’t experience in a big city, but was still close to several large cities.

How were classes in Hikone compared to WMU? Did you enjoy them?

The classes were definitely different, in a good way. I learned a lot there I wouldn’t have been able to at Western due to the teachers and location.

What were some of your favorite things about your time at JCMU?

I liked how you could be adventurous and go out of your bubble as much as you wanted. Some days it was nice to just stay in the comfort of the dorm and have access to people and things that were familiar to you. Most times, though, I loved biking, traveling to new places, and seeing new things while still having a place I could use as a pit stop in my travels back and forth. The other students, both from the United States and not, made things interesting and fun everyday as you could have a person to travel and experience things with. As previously stated, the many cultural events and trips really positively accented my time studying and my own adventures.

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Did your experiences abroad help you when you returned to WMU? How so?

Thanks to JCMU, I returned with advanced language ability, so I was able to skip several classes upon the next Fall semester. More importantly, I felt I grew as a person since I was exposed to many things I would never have had the ability or option to do in America.

What would you say to prospective students considering JCMU?

Make sure to bring enough money to participate in everything you want to, and be ready to step out of your comfort zone and explore every option made available to you since it will certainly be an experience you will fondly remember for the rest of your life. Engage with everyone you can and get acquainted with (including local Japanese university students) for even more interesting and exciting adventures.


We would like to thank Matthew for sharing his experiences with us, and we hope this inspires future students to consider studying abroad in Hikone! For more information about Thomas’ program, please visit the Semester Language & Culture program page.

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