fall2020 News: Japanese Studies

Every Day an Adventure: Studying Abroad at Akita International University

Caleb Rivers

2020 Fall Caleb photo1There is not a moment that I don’t think fondly of the time I spent at Akita International University (AIU). I originally went to AIU to strengthen my Japanese language skills, but the experience became so much more. The Japanese students and international students always stood beside one another and helped lift everyone to their greatest potential.

My first roommate was a Japanese student from Osaka. He offered insight into aspects of  Japanese culture that aren’t discussed in the classroom and always invited me to events with his friends. Even simple, casual conversations with him helped my Japanese language skills.
Affordable travel allowed me to spend approximately one week in Tokyo during Christmas. Initially, I was a little scared to wander around Tokyo’s most popular areas, but after finding my confidence in both my independence and my Japanese-language ability, navigating was rather easy.

Some of my most valuable experiences came from volunteering at elementary schools in Akita. Because Akita is a rural area, traffic from international travel is low. However, the children at the schools knew a surprising amount about American culture and English. It ignited my passion for helping others, and that will remain with me forever. 2020 Fall Caleb photo2

Overall, my time in Akita was indescribably magical.  Everything I learned about Japan at William & Mary came to life. It was unique to both my scholastic and life experience, so every day felt like an adventure. The friends and experiences I gained during the era will stick with me forever. To those who provided me with this opportunity: I extend my gratitude. I can’t thank them enough.

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.

News News: French & Francophone Studies Spring 2015

Food in Southern France: Ellery Lea Shares Her Study Abroad Research Experiences

Since I was a child, I’ve always been interested in the role of food in contributing to a culture’s shared identity and sense of community. My interest in cuisine stems primarily from my family background because my parents have worked in the food service industry my entire life, and they used to run their own coffee shop. Seeing their hard work at their shop instilled in me a respect for small business owners and their ability to establish relationships with customers through personalized service and simple food and drink.


For my project last summer, I decided to investigate a small aspect of the culture in Montpellier by researching and sampling local foods created and sold within the Langeudoc-Roussillon region where Montpellier is located. My goal was to better understand the character of the region by investigating the goods that are important there. I also interviewed James Egreteau, the owner of Le Panier d’Aimé, which is a small business in Montpellier that sells locally produced food and drink. By tasting regional products, such as spreads, oils, and wines, and learning about Mr. Egreteau’s growing business, I was able to explore a facet of the culture in Montpellier from a local’s perspective. Locally sourced foods, like those sold at Le Panier d’Aimé, are a way for tourists and younger generations to connect to the rich agricultural history and traditions of the South of France.

boutique 2 Food can sometimes be taken for granted because it’s easy to purchase and consume food without thinking too much about where it comes from and who produces it. However, my experience in Montpellier reinforced the idea that food is a powerful way to connect with others and learn about an area’s history and personality.

  • Ellery Lea