January 09, 2013
Marta Schneider is studying abroad for a year in Tokyo, Japan, at Waseda University through an Associated Colleges of the Midwest program called Japan Study. After spending several childhood years in Japan, she developed a desire to learn more about the Japanese language and culture. A Knox College junior from Dunlap, Illinois, she is double-majoring in economics and Asian studies. She also is blogging about her time in Japan.
What inspired you to pursue study abroad in general, and why did you decide to pursue this particular program or country for your study abroad experience?
Having spent a few years living abroad in Japan when I was younger, I knew that that I really wanted to study abroad at some point in my college experience, either to further my education in Japanese or to experience a culture I had never been a part of before. (Photo at top: Marta Schneider, at left, with friends at Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo. Photo below right: Mount Fuji.)
Can you cite an example of how your in-classroom and/or out-of-the-classroom experiences at Knox have benefited you as you studied abroad and traveled internationally?
One thing I have learned at Knox that I think has truly benefitted me here in Japan is being flexible. When you study abroad, there is always a large amount of uncertainty about what might happen on a day-to-day basis. At Knox, we are taught to think critically, which I think has led me to be more flexible in situations I am not prepared for because I am able to view the situation from more than the most obvious angle.
How do you think this study abroad experience will benefit you in terms of your education, future career plans, personal development, etc.?
In terms of my education, study abroad is doing wonders for my language learning. I can tell that I am getting better at Japanese, which is really exciting because becoming as fluent as possible was one of my goals. In terms of my personal development, study abroad has (thus far) taught me a lot about my relationship to Japan and how to manage life on my own.
What has been the best part of studying abroad?
The best part about studying abroad is being able to be a member of the society that you are studying. I think living with a host family is an important part of that because you get to see the family dynamic and then attend school the way someone else your age would. Plus the language immersion is the best for language learning.
Was this your first experience with international travel? If not, where else have you lived or traveled?
This was not my first experience with international travel. I lived in Japan for three years as a child and have been back to Japan twice prior to coming on this study abroad program. Once was with family for vacation and the other was with Japan Term.
Japan Term really prepared me for what it was going to be like being on my own in Japan and being with other students my age, which was something I had not experienced before. Japan Term also built a good foundation for how to interact with Japanese culture. I have also been to China.
What have you learned so far during your study abroad experience? Is there anything else you are looking forward to during the remainder of your trip?
I still have seven months left, which I am really grateful for, because I am not ready to go home yet! I still feel like I have a lot left to learn about Japan and myself.
A few things I am looking forward to in the coming months include: my host brother’s wedding, cultural practicum, having more free time to travel, and more classes! I am really looking forward to my host brother’s wedding because it is usually a family-only event, but they have asked me to come, which is really special, and such an honor.
The cultural practicum is a four-week long trip to another part of Japan where you participate in the community in some way. I am going to the Tohoku (tsunami-affected) region to do relief work. I am very excited. (Photo below: Marta Schneider, seated at center in the back row, with her host family and friends.)