30 Years, 30 Stories: Self Discovery


2018 marks JCMU’s 30th anniversary since our founding in 1988. To celebrate, we will be posting 30 JCMU stories of 30 different JCMU alumni from 1989 to 2018 every Thursday from mid-February through September!

Why did you study abroad in Hikone? For our twenty-sixth installment in the “30 Years, 30 Stories” series, re-read the story of JCMU 2014-15 alum Karlo Lagapa Delos Angeles (originally posted on May 11th, 2016), and discover why he says “Things are definitely different compared to America and learning in Japan will change your views of the world for the better!”

What JCMU programs did you participate in?

I was a student on the 2014 Summer Intensive Language program and the 2015 “Crossroads of Japan” history-focused May short program.

How and why did you come to participate at JCMU?

For the Summer Intensive Language program, I really wanted to go to Japan and learn more than what I saw on TV (particularly anime). I also wanted to increase my knowledge of the language to better prepare myself for teaching opportunities both here and in Japan. These programs helped me become well-versed in Japanese culture as a result.

I chose to participate in the Crossroads of Japan history program because I believe that to learn about a country’s language and culture, I should also learn its history to better supplement my understanding of the country as a whole.

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Exploring the Japanese countryside

What were your favorite activities/things about the two programs you were in?

There was more things I liked about the program than I have time to write about! I liked the overall atmosphere, as it gave off a ‘How to Live in Japan 101’ kind of vibe. For the language program, my favorite thing has to be how we were able to have time to go around and still enjoy different places while still completing our intensive studies. For the Crossroads program, we were able to have a one-on-one teacher experience with Dr. Atkins (the course instructor), which helped us learn the course content more in-depth than otherwise possible.

My favorite place in the area to go to was Viva City, an entertainment mall in Minami Hikone. This was because I could both go have fun with friends singing in a karaoke booth and bowling, two of my favorite things in life.

How did JCMU benefit your future aspirations?

JCMU helped me figure out what I wanted to do in my life, as I definitely want to go back to Japan and teach English. My experiences at JCMU show that I have gained knowledge of the world outside America, something that would not have been afforded to me had I decided not to study abroad in Hikone.

What shocked you the most being in Japan?

Definitely the mannerisms and figures of speech. In particular, lots of things in English don’t translate well in Japanese, which took some time to get used to.

What did you do after JCMU, and what are you doing now?

I recently finished my undergraduate career at Central Michigan University with a Bachelor of Science in English and two certifications in East Asian Studies and TESOL. Since graduation, I have been working as a teacher while also pursuing a graduate degree.

I plan to teach English to language learners in the country or overseas, ideally in Japan and the Philippines.

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Visiting a Japanese elementary school during my time on the 2014 JCMU Summer Intensive Language program

What would you say to prospective students considering JCMU?

Come to Japan with an open mind. Things are definitely different compared to America and learning in Japan will change your views of the world for the better!

JCMU has many programs and is well-versed in helping students find what they need or are looking for. For me, I wanted to learn more about language and I went from there. Hikone is great because its weather and climate is similar to Michigan’s, plus its hometown feel helps students better acclimate to the country.

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