Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Nancy Che, Verrazano Class of 2018, has diverse interests--biology, art, and. . .Japanese! She had the opportunity to brush up on her Japanes skills on study abroad to Kyoto Japan, in the summer of 2016. 

The summer of 2016 is one I will never forget—one full of adventure, learning, fun, excitement, and meeting new people in the country I have always wanted to visit! It was one full of firsts: first time riding a plane, first time traveling alone, first time living in a dorm, first time studying Japanese again in 3 years… Riding an airplane for the first time was at first nerve wrecking, but then I found myself in awe and amazement at how far human technologies have advanced to permit such a heavy object to fly through the air!

Nancy Che, Class of 2018
Primarily studying and living in Kyoto, I had the opportunity to be surrounded by such traditional Japanese architecture and culture. I got to see the temple of gold (Kinkakuji Temple), tori gates of bright red (like those at Miyajima Island and Fushimi Inari Shrine), mountains full of lush greens (such as Arashiyama), walk through towering bamboo forests (Take no Mori), and see wild deer at Nara. Every day was an adventure to see as much of Japan as my classmates and I could after class, especially since places can close as early as 5pm for the day.

This trip helped me develop stronger perseverance, stamina, and a sense of independence. When it came to food, to me, any restaurant’s food in Japan was amazingly delicious and cheaper than NY! I often had ramen, udon, donburi’s (rice bowl dishes), and green tea desserts. There was always something to do and places to see that there are still so many places I want to visit still.

I have always loved the Japanese culture and language and this study abroad experience allowed me to be immersed in it all. I had classmates from around the world and one thing I found precious was being able to befriend and converse with my Korean classmates using Japanese as our mutual shared language. In addition to studying the language, I got to experience and learn more about the culture. I had the opportunity to learn about and meet geiko-san and maiko-san, also more commonly known as geishas in Eastern Japan and other countries, which an average Japanese person may never get to meet. I got to learn about and make my own sensu (hand fan) and ceramic bowl through the traditional method used centuries ago, and wear a yukata to the Gion Festival, one of the largest festivals in Japan!

Nancy in a kimono at the Gion Festival
Now that I’ve caught the travel bug, my advice to you would be to try studying abroad if they have the chance! To me, it was a college experience I was searching for and something that made me feel more rounded as individual. I am definitely grateful to have shared such an amazing life experience with all the wonderful people I met in Japan! If you’re excited about seeing another country, go open-minded, try new things, and embrace the experience!
A shrine at Uji