fall2020 News: Japanese Studies

Academic, Professional, and Personal Growth Abroad

Kelly Shea

2020 Fall Kelly photo1After studying the Japanese language for several years at William & Mary, I was fortunate to expand upon my learning at Keio University. I couldn’t have asked for a better study abroad experience. I learned alongside many older classmates who were in Japan to work and sought to improve their Japanese language skills. This shared mindset and environment allowed for an immersive experience in and out of the classroom.

Living in a tight-knit international dorm in Yokohama provided an invaluable opportunity to connect with international students. I shared a suite with a Japanese student and a Chinese student.  We enjoyed day trips, cooking nights, and evenings out in Tokyo. Equally distant commutes from my dorm to central Yokohama and central Tokyo allowed me to explore both cities with ease. My Japanese friends often showed me their favorite places.

2020 Fall Kelly photo2I was also fortunate to travel outside of Tokyo to the surrounding prefectures and southern Kanagawa, Hokkaido, Fukuoka, Okinawa, and Kyoto. Fukuoka marked my first trip alone after about two months in Japan. I was nervous, but it turned out to be one of my favorite trips and cities there.

My most valuable experiences were the ordinary ones: attending classes and university events and trying out various circles. I also interned three days each week at a non-profit centered around strengthening Japan-U.S. relations, which gave me insight into life in a Japanese office.

Studying abroad brought to life the lessons I learned in class about the Japanese language and culture, and I recommend the program to anyone with an interest in Japan. The connections I made and the experiences I had while at Keio will continue to shape my path going forward.