As our most intensive program, the Summer Language program challenges students in the classroom. However, Michigan State University student Lily McCormick points out below that the challenges she faced – and overcame – were part of what made her time so memorable.
What is your name, and what is/was your major at MSU?
Lily McCormick, Major: Japanese
How did you find out about this program?
I found out about the program through the MSU study abroad website. My main requirement when selecting my university was to choose one that had a really great study abroad program, so I actually chose MSU because of the JCMU program.
What motivated you to study abroad at JCMU? Was it the location, the classes, or something else?
A lot of what motivated me to study abroad at JCMU was how easily the credits transferred over to MSU; but the main motivator was that JCMU offers home-stay opportunities. I really only wanted to choose a program that had this option because I wanted to experience how Japanese people live day to day and also because I knew it would contribute greatly to the advancement of my Japanese studies.
How were classes in Hikone compared to classes at your home institution? Did you enjoy them?
The classes at JCMU were considerably more difficult than my courses at MSU, but I mean that in the best way possible. It was a huge growing experience, not only in terms of the growth of my knowledge of Japanese but also in terms of personal growth. The classes were rigorous and the teachers hold you to a high standard and expect a lot from their students in a way that, I think, is unique to Japan and the way Japanese people do things.
What were some of your favorite things about your time at JCMU?
This is a question I get a lot from friends and family and it’s definitely the hardest question to answer!! I loved so many things about my time at JCMU. If we’re speaking solely about actually being at JCMU itself, I really enjoyed the location of the school. The school is right on Lake Biwa and it’s gorgeous. Whenever I had some free time or was studying flash cards I would walk behind the school to the lake and sit on the wall and relax. I also loved when the Japanese students came to JCMU for the two-week English program, especially when the group of 26 students came! It was so much fun to get to know and hang out with them in a dorm-life setting and I became really great friends with a lot of them. The friendships didn’t end once they left, since many of them live in Kyoto so we would go on weekends to hang out with them which was always a blast! Even now a few of them have come to Michigan to study abroad!!
Did your experiences abroad help you when you returned home? When you entered the workforce (if applicable)? How so?
Well, I’ve only been back from my study abroad for a little over three weeks, so it’s still hard to see how this experience has impacted me and obviously, I’m still yet to see how it will affect my future. However, before even coming back to the US I knew the experience had changed me for the better. I feel like I have a much deeper understanding of myself and what I’m capable of. This experience has helped me to become confident in myself and has made me want to continue to push myself in order to grow and become a better person.
What would you say to prospective students considering JCMU?
I think the main thing I would want to say to any prospective student is, do not let fear stop you from going on study abroad or from trying new things while you’re there. I’ve personally always had a hard time speaking in front of other people, with people I don’t know or putting myself out of my comfort zone, etc. However, some of my best memories are of times when I did push myself. Like the one time I ended up in a parade carrying a mikoshi (portable shrine) with a bunch of people I didn’t know, chanting meaningless words with them in Japanese. It was an experience I’ll never forget!! I think it’s really important to challenge yourself, whatever that may mean to you specifically.
We would like to thank Lily for sharing her experiences with us, and we hope that her words encourage you to consider studying abroad yourself! For more information about Lily’s program, please visit the Summer Intensive language & Culture program page.