In ancient times, Shiga Prefecture was at the center of Japanese economics and trade, making it a treasure trove of historical sites. Taking students to these sites, the 2015 JCMU Crossroads of Japan May short program had on-site history lessons, showing a side of the prefecture that most don’t see. We interviewed Lukas Knoerr, an alum of the program, about his time studying Japanese history on the go!
What is your name, and what is/was your major at UM-Dearborn?
Lukas Knoerr, Information Technology Management/Supply Chain Management.
Which JCMU program and year did you participate in?
I participated in the JCMU Crossroads of Japan May short program in 2015.
How did you find out about this program while you were at UM-Dearborn?
Our Study Abroad Program website had a small paragraph about JCMU that linked to the JCMU website where I was able to find more information.
What motivated you to study abroad at JCMU? Was it the location, the classes, or something else?
If we’re being honest here, it was years and years of my parents telling me to study abroad while I have the time in college. Having been to Japan when I was younger, I was always been itching to go back. JCMU and the wide variety of classes they offer seemed like the best means to get myself back to Japan.
How were classes in Hikone compared to classes at UM-Dearborn? Did you enjoy them?
The Crossroads course was different from what most students on different JCMU programs will experience when in Hikone. Traveling around the Lake Biwa Region, seeing and learning firsthand about the history and culture of Japan is definitely different from any history or culture class I’ve taken in college.
What were some of your favorite things about your time at JCMU?
Meeting new friends, traveling to places like Chikubishima or Fushimi Inari Shrine and having a feeling of wonder and amazement as I’m taking in the sights. Spending an entire day off riding my bike around Lake Biwa, going from recycle shop to recycle shop: these are all unforgettable experiences that I’ll carry with me as I continue to grow as a person.
Did your experiences abroad help you when you returned to UM-Dearborn? When you entered the workforce (if applicable)? How so?
After coming back, I became a more outgoing person. I’m more likely to experience new things or go out of my comfort zone, and I’m even hungrier to travel and see the world. I’m not scared of traveling alone anymore, and I’ve had a much easier time interacting with people and making new friends.
What would you say to prospective students considering JCMU?
I know what you’re thinking: you have all these doubts and fears about traveling abroad, alone, to a country that you’ve only read about or seen on TV. What if I don’t like the food? What if I don’t make any friends while I’m there? I was there too, and if it wasn’t for my sister constantly telling me to submit my application on time, I would have gave into my own doubts and fears and wouldn’t have gone either. I’ll admit, I was so scared of traveling abroad by myself for the first time that I barely got any sleep the night before I flew out. But it’s worth it, for the experiences you’ll have with the friends you’ll meet. Almost 2 years later I still talk with and hang out with the friends I made at the JCMU and look back on the experiences I had there fondly. And I was only there for 2 weeks; imagine what you can do if you’re there for a month, or 3 months, or an entire semester! Don’t waste the best opportunity you have to go travel and see the world, because I can say from personal experience that any doubts or fears you have will be gone the moment you walk through the JCMU doors
We would like to thank Lukas for sharing his experiences with us, and we hope this inspires future students to consider studying abroad in Hikone! For more information about May short programs, please visit the JCMU program page.