Before I went to the United States to join in this program, I thought that America is a funny and pleasant country. This is because I just watched TV, read books and magazines and was heard from my family and friends about the United States, and this studying abroad was my first trip to the United States. In order to join in this program, I searched for American information, such as the year, the way and the reason America was independent and American latest politic affairs. However, these research was not enough, so I can not understand factual situation about America.
After many professors taught us various American information, such as food, music, religions, politics, and slavery, I felt that my acknowledge about the United States was very little and I was embarrassed for this reason. I can turn my eyes to not funny and pleasant America but serious and academic one by recognizing the United States itself. Also, I want to know about American politics in detail, and American today’s economic and environmental problems. However, I thought that I didn’t know about Japan so much on the way I was studying the United States. I thought that I could not know about foreign countries without talking to the local people about my own country when I go to the country in the future. For this reason, I think that I should search for and know about Japan.
Also, I had thought that it was difficult to maintain the idea of a diverse society because we are surrounded by people with the same nationality. Yet, going to America helped me understand that diversity is not only about race, ethnicity and religion, but it also applies to other things too such as regional, political, economical and educational aspects. I still remember how fascinated I was when I got to figure out how one thing could be complexly related with another, and that cultural studies wasn’t only about seeking one answer, but to be able to view it from multiple perspectives. Sadly, we cannot do this overnight, we need to have the knowledge to do so and moreover, the key is to observe the situation. This is one of the things I also gained during my stay in America. I often noticed myself looking around trying to spot the difference from Japan. It was interesting to find out the ‘why’ based on the things we learnt and coming up with the possible answers.
While we got to cover many historical parts of American culture that lead to what the country is today, the things that were currently relatable also caught my attention. I had always thought that people in Japan did not to show much interest in politics and are conservative. On the other hand, from what I saw from the media, people in America were the opposite; they had their own voices and seemed like they were always seeking for improvement and didn’t look back. Therefore, I was taken by surprised to hear that so many people were afraid of changes and fear diversity, which turned out to be the result of the election of Trump. I am aware that many people still oppose of him being president, but I felt it ironic that although people are afraid of changes, they still chant for America to be great again while so many issues are getting worse, which causes a gap between expectation and reality.
Next, let’s move on most important things I learned in America. I learned a variety of things, and it is cross cultural communication that I learned the most important of the things, for this studying abroad program was my first studying abroad, so I can communicate with foreign people for the first time.I experienced various things with PAs and CIs. For example, we went to Yorktown beach, played hot sauce game at midnight, did night pool party, walked so long way of slave trail with you. In addition, of course we had breakfast, lunch and dinner, and did dialogue class and focus group work with you. We studied seriously and also played some games. These are really priceless experiences. Thank you very much.