Preparing for Japan: Why I want to go.

 Destination: Keio University – Tokyo, Japan

When I tell people that I’m studying abroad for a year in Tokyo, Japan the most common reaction I receive usually involves immediate excitement and interest from the other person because the location and city are so foreign and exotic. I have found that the next question that most of my friends and professors ask me (after expressing their excitement and congratulations) is: Why do you want to go to Tokyo for a year? To be a honest, it is a fair question and one that I do not think I have been able to give a straight answer to so far. So, in preparation for a year abroad I thought that I would put together a mini-story of the events in my life that pushed me to study abroad at Keio University for an entire year.

In my mind there are two parts to the question. The first involves why I want to stay for a year when most students decide to only go abroad for a semester and the second is why I decided to go specifically to Japan. I’ll begin with the first because it is the easier of the two to explain.

The reason I want to stay for a year probably stems from the fact that my father worked at Kalamazoo College, a liberal arts college renowned for its international programs. Even though his values (concerning study abroad) were not necessarily born out of working at K College, they were emphasized from his time there. My father always stressed how important it was for students to study abroad. From a purely personal perspective, the experience helps students grow internally, teaches them important life lessons and pushes them to become better leaders. It also allows students to involve themselves in another country’s culture and challenge them to step outside their own comfort zone. Although a semester abroad will accomplish many of these goals, there is a lot of evidence that suggests a full year only enhances the experience more and truly allows a student to become fully immersed in a different culture. While a number of students find it difficult to study aboard to complete their major and minor requirements, in my heart I decided that if I could study aboard for a year, I would so that I could immerse myself and become a better leader.

I decided that for the second part of the question I would make a video that chronicles how I become interested in Japanese culture.

To those reading this, I hope that I have satisfied your curiosity and showed you the reasons of why I want to go to Tokyo, Japan for a year. I’m very excited and hope that I will be able to take you all with me on my adventures as I explore and discover a completely foreign city and culture.


Elena Potts