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!
What goals did you set for yourself during your time in Japan? For our twenty-eighth installment in the “30 Years, 30 Stories” series, read JCMU fall 2014 alum Joshua Anderson’s thoughts on the program, and discover how he was able to achieve both of his study abroad objectives while at JCMU.
Before I left for Japan last semester, I decided on two goals for my trip. The first was to attain conversational proficiency in Japanese—difficult, I thought, but within the realm of possibility considering the rigor of JCMU’s language classes. But my second goal was ultimately more important—and, I worried, less likely to be achieved. I hoped that my time in Japan would allow me to grow personally; I wanted to leave the country as a more mature, confident man.
I’m happy to say that I achieved both of my goals.
The semester was not without its low points, but with hard work and the help of the numerous friends I made, I was able to overcome the self-doubt that plagued my first few weeks and eventually find new, unexpected confidence in myself. Even with by far the most demanding schedule yet in my college career, JCMU allowed me to have a rich and satisfying social life. Thanks in large part to JCMU’s “Kokunai Ryugaku” in-country study abroad program for Japanese college students, I got to meet not only fellow students from Michigan, but dozens of Japanese people my age as well.
I’m very thankful that I took advantage of this opportunity when I did, as a college student. I’m also very thankful for JCMU. I can’t imagine studying abroad at a better institution. The relatively small number of students allowed me to have a very close relationship to my peers and to the instructors. I also loved the location of the school. Hikone is a beautiful town that isn’t too big or too small, and landmark cities like Kyoto and Osaka were always an easy train ride away.
Like any country, Japan has its downsides, but through the time I spent there, I gained a deeper understanding and a deeper love for it. Japan feels like a second home to me now, despite the barriers in language and culture. Even now, I study Japanese on my own everyday so that I can continue to break down those barriers.
Not a day has passed since I came back to the United States where I haven’t thought about my time in Japan. No matter what route I take in life, returning to Japan someday is absolutely an intention of mine, and I have the wonderful time I had learning and growing at JCMU to thank for that.