Dana Fager (AY 2009-2010)
During my time on Year-in-Japan study abroad program, my Japanese language skills greatly improved, I had many cultural experiences, and I formed deep friendships with my host family and fellow Konan University students. Japanese language study was the heart of my nine months abroad. My language class had three different instructors throughout the five-day school week. In this way, we learned from a variety of teaching styles and covered a broad spectrum of language concepts, including formal speech, movie viewing, speed-reading, grammar, etc. Although language study was the heart of my study abroad experience, it was also extremely important for me to form strong connections with the Japanese students at Konan University. I met Japanese students by going to the Ajisai Room for exchange students and befriending Japanese students whom I met there. I also made friends with Konan students working as an English language tutor at Konan University. Living with a Japanese host family is a rewarding experience but also quite challenging. It is generally true that when host families take you in, they treat you as their own child. This manifests itself in ways such as having a curfew, doing household chores, and conferring with the host family in regard to personal plans. I had to abide by their curfew time, which I saw as restrictive after my year of living in the dorms with no curfew. However, in behaving politely and abiding by my host family’s rules, I was gained their respect and trust. They included me in their conversations at the dinner table.
My language skills improved greatly due to communication with my host family. They also took me on a trip with them and took me out to theater performances and other cultural events, and we became very close. For this and everything, I am very grateful that I had opportunity to join the Year-in-Japan Program.