Exchange Program Helped Define Goals
Future Plans Inspired in France
Having chosen ICU for the excellent study abroad opportunities the university offers, I had the exchange program in mind ever since the matriculation ceremony. My English wasn't so good, so I was placed in Stream 3 (English for Liberal Arts streamlines students into four levels, with Stream 1 being the highest), where the largest number of students start out. I studied frantically for the ten ELA classes a week to keep up with my 20 classmates. But the faculty provide riveting material, so we enjoyed the process of improving our language skills.
During the summer of my first year, I spent 6 weeks in Canada on the SEA (Study English Abroad) program. After returning to ICU, I took as many courses offered in English as I could and befriended the multinational students on campus. This was how I naturally acquired the English proficiency required for my third year abroad. The passionate faculty in my French language courses, which I took in my second year, motivated me to learn more about French culture and people. I also attended the French Studies Abroad program in my second year, through which I started thinking about a career in the development world or tourism. With these goals in mind, I chose University of Toulouse II - Jean Jaurès for my destination in the exchange program, to study European culture firsthand and improve my French.
Two Things I Gained in France
In addition to improved language proficiency, the experience in France proved to be rewarding in two other aspects. The first was the opportunity to take a fresh look at Japan and its culture. France has a huge immigrant population, with frequent strikes and demonstrations: it was so different from Japan. The second was the opportunity to clarify future goals. Friends often asked questions about Japanese culture and language. It was fun teaching them Japanese, but I felt frustrated when I could not provide adequate answers about my own culture. I wanted to learn more to be able to offer information about my country. So I made plans to work for a travel agency for foreigners and acquire the National Certified Guide-interpreter qualification.
Build Your Future by Taking a Step Forward
The excellent study abroad program at ICU makes the university a great place for those with an exploratory spirit and strong interest in different cultures. For me, the experience was an opportunity to clarify future goals. Some of my friends returned with a new set of values that changed their perspectives for what they wanted to do after graduation. Others were motivated to further their studies in graduate school, gaining confidence with improved language skills. It is a unique life-changing experience for everyone, coping with anxiety, making mistakes, but also rewarded with success. This creates a valuable basis for the future.
Join us at ICU, where you can experience a unique environment of diversity and meet faculty and students who respect the traditions and ideals of the school.