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Categories

  1. Career
    1. My One and Only
    2. Interning at the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo
    3. S. Takata Memorial Research Library and My Research Theme
    4. Building a Career in Japan - Don't let the Japanese people beat you in linguistic skills and cultural comprehension -
    5. 67 years after World War II
    6. What is a life plan? From the National Bar Exam to becoming a painter
    7. Job-hunting experience note -Receiving a job offer from the first-choice company is not a dream-
    8. Job-hunting experience note -Self-analysis is about "Constructing one-self"-
    9. The skill-levels of world-class top talents are extremely high. That is why, in order to compete against the world, ambition and aspiration is necessary.
    10. Japan's passport did not come falling from the skies. Fight now for the respect of the future Japanese.
    11. OECD Internship Report
    12. Settling down in Waseda
    13. Be true to yourself, boldly step forward into the things that excite you!
    14. Job Hunting experience notes
    15. In Finland, as an Artist and a Researcher
    16. Using My experiences from Waseda,
    17. Waseda:An everlasting bond
    18. Recent report from Denmark
    19. Submission from WiN member (Recent Report)
    20. Memories of Waseda
    21. My experience at Waseda
    22. My time at Waseda University
    23. Teaching Position at Korea University
  1. Event Reports
    1. C21 Tokyo Challenge
    2. Enjoying a taste of South-East Asia: Vietnamese Bánh Mì Sandwiches and Milo
    3. Looking Back on the "Go Global Japan" English Presentation Contest
    4. Student Visa Day at the American Embassy
    5. 3rd Place Finish in the "Hong Kong Cup"
    6. Students' Day at the American Embassy
    7. ASIAN STUDENTS ENVIRONMENT PLATFORM 2012: Environmental field studies by students from Japan, China, and Korea
    8. Reflections on the Universitas21 Undergraduate Research Conference 2012 Part 2: Non-academic conference learning
    9. Reflections on the Universitas21 Undergraduate Research Conference 2012 Part 1: Academic conference learning
    10. The 7th Foreigner's Traditional Japanese Dance Exhibition: Waseda University student performers' questionnaire interview
    11. [Event] Universitas 21 Undergraduate Research Conference 2012 at Waseda University - ended in a great success!
  1. Gourmet
    1. What Do You Do With a Major in Ramen?
  1. Others
    1. "Ship for South East Asian and Japanese Youth Program (SSEAYP)"
    2. Exchange Students from US Reunite at Waseda after 30 years
    3. "Like" WiN on Facebook!
    4. WiN Blog starts
  1. Sports
    1. Learning How "To Think" Through Waseda University's Track & Field
    2. Participating in the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships
    3. "Participating in the XXV Winter Universiade Games (2011/Erzurum)"
    4. My experience with Waseda's American Football Bukatsu
  1. Study Abroad
    1. Shifting Cultivation and the Challenge of Sustainability in Mopungchuket Village, India
    2. Building the TOMODACHI Generation
    3. Kakehashi Project Report
    4. The Double Degree Program at Peking University
    5. Camping and Snowshoeing in Canada
    6. An Encouragement of two-stages approach to study abroad
    7. Studying abroad in Brisbane, Australia
    8. A new kind of Study Abroad
    9. 14-Day Short term Study Abroad Program in Chowgule College, Goa - "What can I do? What can they do? What can you do?"
    10. From Tsugaru strait to the African highest peak Kilimanjaro
    11. PIANO LINE -Seattle Study Abroad Chronicles-
    12. In Finland, as an Artist and a Researcher
    13. What I learned about China through Shanghai Fudan University
    14. Why are those who've experienced study abroad programs a little different? -Full Japanese SILS student reveals the whole story of studying abroad -
    15. China, The Neighboring Country You Do Not Know ~ My Encounter at Peking University ~
    16. Study Abroad Experience Notes
    17. C'est la vie! This is life! Work hard, Play hard.
    18. Study abroad @ Taiwan
    19. Study abroad @ Beijing
  1. Study in Japan
    1. Visiting the Prime Minister's Residene
    2. IPS Summer School 2016: Culture Meets Culture
    3. The World is Smaller than We Think
    4. Waseda Summer 2016
    5. The Opportunity of a Lifetime
    6. Experiencing Village Life at Kijimadaira
    7. A Fantastic Opportunity
    8. A Rewarding Experience
    9. An Amazing Experience
    10. Take Me Wonder by Wonder
    11. I Couldn't Ask for More
    12. Another Kokusaibu Story
    13. SAKURA Exchange Program in Science
    14. I Want to Go Again!
    15. More than Good Sushi
    16. Immersive Experience into the Japanese Culture
    17. 40 Years of Memories in a Photo
    18. Experiencing Everything First Hand
    19. Waseda Summer Session wasn't like any other Summer Camp
    20. Looking Forward to the Past
    21. Weeding a Rice Paddy ~Field Trip to Niigata~
    22. Japan Study Students to Waseda: A message from the class of 1983-84
    23. Developing Medical and Welfare Robots ~The Challenges of Kabe Laboratory, Faculty of Human Sciences~
    24. Recollecting experiences of Exchange Programme at Waseda
    25. Kuroda Kazuo Interview: About Studying in Japan
  1. Volunteer Activity
    1. Taking the first step in volunteering
    2. "Volunteer experience in earthquake-hit area Natori"
    3. "The Great East Japan Earthquake Reconstruction Volunteering"
    4. How my perspective changed through volunteering
    5. Tohoku Volunteer
    6. Great East Japan Earthquake    "Fumbaro East Japan Support Project"

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Blog

Study Abroad Experience Notes

Profile
Name:Takeshi Kakuma
Period Attended at Waseda: 2008.4 to present
Affiliation/Program at Waseda: School of International Liberal Studies, 4thYear,
Host School:Sonoma State University (California, United States of America)


“One year will pass by really quickly so enjoy every single bit of it!” Those were the last words from my college senior but when I first arrived in the United States I had no confidence living there alone for a year.

I spent my study abroad Sonoma State University, California which is about an hour drive from San Francisco. Sonoma is a well known wine region where there are many vineyards and wineries dotted around the university. It was very nice to go out on drives on sunny days. It’s safe to say that one of the great things about California is the climate. The summers are dry and hot but just standing under a tree shade provides enough coolness to feel comfortable. Just looking up at the clear blue sky lifted all my worries away. I truly thought it was a lovely place to live. Unfortunately, there is nothing there. Only fields after fields and blue sky. On foot it would take over an hour to and back to the closest supermarket. There are no bars or karaoke’s to go to on the weekends. Without a car you can’t do anything. The lifestyle there was very different from the one at Waseda.

I lived in a dormitory with 5 Americans. Although I say dormitory it was more like a two story house with a kitchen, living room and a twin room on the first floor, two single rooms and a twin room on the second floor. I shared the second floor twin room with John. All my housemates were cheerful people with carefree personalities. However, at times they were a little too cheerful, playing their music full blast till three in the morning every night. It exhausted me at times. All my housemates also liked music and would play their guitars or bass’ during their free time. Although I don’t know how to play, I did enjoy listening to them. But I did have problem with James (the guy in the room next door) bringing a whole drum set into the house and playing it first thing in the morning. At times they were too carefree and would eat my food without asking, they wouldn’t wash the dishes that they used and they wouldn’t put out the trash which made me feel more of a clean freak than ever when many of my friends back in Japan would say I was careless.

As for my English, I went abroad without being able to speak anything. The second day after I got there John asked me, “It’s hot today, isn’t it?” I couldn’t understand what it was that he was asking me. I made him repeat himself three times and yet I couldn’t understand him. At first I would just chime in when possible and smile to pretend I knew what was being said. Even if I couldn’t understand what they were saying I would just say “Oh yeah”. But one day I really embarrassed myself when I was asked “What classes do you take this semester?” and I replied “Oh yeah. Hahaha!!” This led me to be so afraid of speaking English that at one point I shut myself out from everyone and would only speak on Skype with other friends who were on study abroad programs. I was feeling a great deal of stress from not being able to even say half of the things I wanted to say.

The interesting part though is that human beings adapt to their surroundings. After 2, 3 months you start getting used to the language and weirdly enough English starts rolling off of your tongue… well, not really but you get used to the fact that that you can’t speak English. Once you get used to that, you start to relax a little and try not to use such difficult terms. I started to feel that I wanted to try and speak English even though I would only be able to speak at a kindergartner’s level. It is impossible to even think that I can communicate at the same level as someone who has lived 20 years only speaking English when I have been only speaking Japanese for 20 years. It’s unachievable and there was no way I was going to improve so quickly. The key was to not get too pumped up but to build my knowledge slowly. After changing my way of thinking I started to feel a lot more at ease.

I even started liking the countryside lifestyle I wasn’t too fond of in Sonoma. There was something comforting about how time seemed to pass by slowly compared to back in Tokyo. Because there was nothing much to do, it drove you to try and find things to do yourself. I read many books and would play basket ball with my roommate till late. Instead of being upset about the fact that my roommates were eating my food, I started to think that I should eat their food too.

After about 7 or 8 months had passed, less and less did I have to ask my roommates to repeat what they had said and vice versa. At times I would be able to mumble in English when I was only half awake. But now I look back, I feel as if my study abroad just finished when I was finally able to stand on the start line. Before I went abroad I thought a year was enough to gain enough knowledge to be able to speak fluently but that never happened. I now hope that if I carry on with my English studies for another 2 or 3 years, I will be able to structure my English sentences a little better.
Finally, the most important thing I experienced during my one year study abroad program was the people’s kindness. Many people helped me when I had stumbled onto this unfamiliar land far away from home or from anyone I knew. Up until then I used to be a person who would think it was wrong to rely on others and would think that you needed to become a person that was able to do anything and everything with your own strength. But now I am able to think that it is ok to rely on others too and to instead express my feelings of gratitude. If someone had helped me all I can do is thank them in return. From now on I wish to carry on this feeling.
 

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On the roof of a hostel in N.Y.

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Playing games at a friend's house on Christmas Day

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