Amber Yaw – Japan

I studied abroad in 2009-2010 at Kansai Gaidai University in Hirakata, Japan. I wanted to travel to a country that was very different from my own and push myself to be more independent. I quickly had to learn Japan’s culture and social rules. I was so far out of my comfort zone but I definitely came back more independent than when I went.

I was lucky to have had the opportunity to travel to Hiroshima to hear an Atomic Bomb survivor speak. It was such an intense experience and one of my fondest memories. I also got to see Okinawa, Fukuoka, and went to South Korea for spring break.

I currently live and work in South Korea. I’ve been teaching ESL for almost 3 years, 2 of which with the most amazing high school students on the planet. My first year in Korea I lived in Daegu, a fairly large city in southern Korea. I enjoyed the city but working with elementary students was not my thing. So I decided to move up to high school students after a year. I found a high school in a small rural city called Hongseong, and I’ve been here for about a year and a half.

I teach first and second year high school students, the equivalent of sophomores and juniors in the US. My students are hilarious but ask some very deep questions about all sorts of topics. I remember having a discussion about dog meat and how Americans think about Korea’s history of its consumption. I’ve learned a lot about the education system here and how much it differs from the States’ system. My students are at school from 8:30 am until 9:00 pm or later. I’ve learned how to adult in a different language which is sometimes frustrating but all the more rewarding after. I think that my time abroad during college really helped with my ability to navigate my life here.

Studying abroad will change your life. I know how cliché that sounds but studying abroad broadens your understanding not only of the world and how you fit in it, but of yourself and what you are capable of as well.

Do research. Go to the Office of International Programs and Services and ask questions. Go early and go often. Everyone is so kind and helpful. Look into different programs, both MU and not, to find the one that will best fit your needs. Prepare financially and emotionally. Finally, just go. You won’t regret it.