English major Jordan Traut studied abroad in Japan for a semester. Read about her experiences below!
Studying abroad in Japan has been a life-long dream of mine for as long as I can remember. Since I took a world literature course in middle school, I have been passionate about studying ancient literature from the Middle and Far East. Japanese prose and poetry from the Nara, Heian, and Edo periods were always of special interest to me, and there is really no better place to study a particular culture’s literature than from within the country itself. Millersville’s partnership with Kansai Gaidai University and their new Japanese Culture Studies minor were part of the reason I was attracted to the university in the first place.
After my first semester at Millersville, however, I wasn’t sure I would be able to spend a semester in Japan and still graduate on time because I fulfilled most of my general education credits in high school and at a community college. I only briefly mentioned how I was planning on letting go of my study abroad ambitions to another student when Dr. Jakubiak pulled me aside after class and told me that the English Department is always happy to accommodate students with their study abroad goals. On her advice, I sat down with Dr. Craven who assured me that we could work together to ensure my Japanese courses counted toward my English degree.
With the help of the Dmitzak Global Initiative Award from the Honors College and Dr. Craven in the English Department, I am happy to say I made it to Japan without spending more than my usual tuition costs and I am set to graduate one year early!
During my semester here, I am focusing my studies on Japanese literature. Specifically, I am interested in understanding Japan’s historical and cultural development through literary representations of their diverse eras. I am currently working with one of my professors researching a particular Japanese folktale that relates to my thesis work. Even though I am halfway around the world, I am finding bits and pieces of information that relates to my life and work at home.
On weekends, I like to travel to different Shinto Shrines and Buddhist Temples with my friends and host family. Last weekend, my host parents took me to the Todai-ji Temple in Nara Park. This temple, originally built in 738 CE, is famous for the world’s largest bronze Buddha. It is, in my opinion, one of the most magnificent UNESCO World Heritage Sites and a historic monument of Japan’s most ancient cities. My host parents, who treat me like their own family, bought me souvenirs and took me to feed the deer in Nara Park.
I was also lucky enough to be one of three Kansai Gaidai students selected for an internship with the official news service for the 2019 Rugby World Cup, which is currently being held in various cities around Japan. At the games I am assigned to cover in Hanazono and Kobe, I attend press conferences with the teams and interview players after their matches.
To any English students interested in studying abroad or even just trying something different and new, I would encourage you to go for it. Faculty and staff in the English Department are a great resource who, in my experience, value high-impact personal education experience. They will help you fight for the opportunity to grow as a student.