Tips and Pics from Bridging Scholars

August 29, 2017 

Thanks to you, our donors and supporters, the 2016-2017 academic year Bridging Scholars have returned from a wonderful, challenging, exciting, nerve-wracking, and absolutely unforgettable year of study abroad in Japan.  They gained Japanese language and culture fluency, personal and professional leadership skills, career assets, and life transforming insights.  We are excited to share some of their pics and tips here.  You made this happen and we are grateful to you.

 “Apart from what I learned on the job, I learned a lot about myself through the challenges that my time in Japan presented to me. Kurashiki is considered by all Japanese to be the countryside which meant that it was incredibly rare for me to encounter another foreigner. This allowed me to gain an unfiltered idea of the Japanese way of life, which I greatly appreciated, but at the same time, it was also a challenge. This meant that the only support I had to fall back onto was myself. Back home, I had friends and family but this time, I was truly independent. Yes, I developed friendships and did many things with my co-workers outside of work but when their lives came calling, it was just me. As a result, I had the opportunity to travel all over Japan, saw, ate and did things I never thought I would, giving me the tools to make the most out of that time.”  (Nathan, University of Cincinnati, JFE Steel Corp. Internship)


“Making friends outside of exchange students can be a challenge.  I wish I studied practical speech in class more before I left for Japan and I definitely recommend that students watch current dramas or TV programs, learn onomatopoeia, and listen to Japanese music to help counter this. I would say that finding a friend to talk casually with, ask opinions, freely make mistakes, and ask questions was the key to my language growth. Take advantage of the wide variety of clubs and volunteer opportunities and get out there.” (Margaret, Wellesley College/International Christian University)


 “Living in Japan, I realized that I was not prepared to try and juggle two separate lives. I thought my time in Japan would be like a vacation, a break from everyday life and a chance to experience something new. However, I found out rather quickly that your life at home country does not stop and can require significant attention, which is hard to give when you are halfway across the world. So my advice is, whatever is happening back home, try your best to not worry too much. You will return, and everything will still be there waiting for you, and if it’s not, that’s okay too.” (Maria, University of Minnesota, Sophia University)


 “During my second week in Beppu, we had a massive earthquake that rocked a large part of Kyushu. While Kumamoto Prefecture was hit the hardest, Beppu was heavily impacted as well. The earthquake came as a terrifying shock and resulted in a week of canceled classes and three days spent in an evacuation shelter. However, the frightening circumstances brought students and the community together in an astonishing way. I have never seen so much love, kindness, and understanding among total strangers. I could not be more grateful to the Bridging Foundation and the donors that helped to make this opportunity a reality for me.” (Jennifer, Oklahoma City University, Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University)