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International Programs


WSU Student Reflects on Study Abroad Experience in Japan

Abagail L.O. Poelstra

NISHINOMIYA, Japan – The past three weeks have been [a] once in a lifetime experience that I couldn’t be more grateful for. This is my first time in a different country and it couldn’t have been better. The program has increased my Japanese skills as well as my understanding of Japanese culture. This new comprehension is beyond anything that I could have through my classes in America.

I originally chose to study Japanese [due] to a lifetime interest in Japanese pop culture and history. However, after my first week of classes, I fell in love with the language itself. When I arrived in Japan, I felt that love increase. This trip has reaffirmed my decision and passion for Japanese and Japan. Through choosing to study Japanese, I have been given this wonderful opportunity and met the most amazing people. My only regret was that I didn’t start earlier on in my life.

My favorite experience in Japan has been traveling. While in Japan, I have been able to explore Osaka, Kyoto, Nishinomiya, and Nara. Despite being so close together, each city had its own unique flavor. The mixture of old and new, the attitude of the people, and the overall feeling was so different. I also deeply loved the shrines and temples found in every city. The spirituality and history found  in these places deeply touched me. The part of America I am from has nothing that could compare to these beautiful landmarks. Being able to experience them in person is something I’m deeply grateful for.

This whole trip wouldn’t have been half of what it was without my host family. The Otani family accepted me with open arms and treated me with love. Just like everyone else, I was incredibly nervous to meet my host family. However, I couldn’t have lucked out more. I deeply love this family and can’t say thank you enough for what they have done for me. I have made a life long friendship and can not wait until the next time I get to see them.

Overall, I found the program to be fun and educational. The structure and the group were near perfection. The nine other girls in the program have become family to me and we are already making plans to visit each other in our respective countries. I wish this program lasted longer but these past three weeks have felt like a dream. I can’t wait to return home and tell everyone about this journey. A once in a lifetime experience that will be told through out this lifetime.