Exchange years bring lifelong friendships, memories and experiences. For University of Richmond students who study abroad, most of them describe their time abroad as life-changing.
For students who come to UR from exchange programs in other countries, their stories may be different.
Chise Ueda is a junior exchange student from Waseda University, in Tokyo, Japan.
Ueda has lived in Tokyo her entire life. She said her classes at Waseda University were very different from her classes at UR in one major aspect: discussions.
“I was surprised by how in-depth my classmates think,” Ueda said. “In Japan, people hesitate to share opinions, but here, it is different.”
Ueda also said professors at UR were helpful to her. Her academic advisor helped her gain internship opportunities in her major, political science.
When asked about her favorite memory at UR, Ueda said the close friendships with other exchange students and events organized by the international education team were her favorites.
“I remember making gingerbread houses and writing cute Christmas cards,” Ueda said. “I am grateful to the International Education staff for arranging those for the international students.”
While discussing new experiences, Ueda said thanksgiving is not celebrated in Japan. However, when she got the opportunity to visit the Shenandoah National Park with her host family and stay in a mountain house for Thanksgiving, she understood how special the holiday can be when spent with close family and friends.
Ueda’s time abroad had its challenges despite the fond memories. She had to overcome a language barrier when she came to UR.
“It was really hard for me to participate in the classes because of the language barrier,” Ueda said. “It ultimately got better with time when I realized that I had to just positively approach my classes rather than thinking about how other classmates may judge me when they hear my accent.”
Ueda said she thought UR could better cater to international exchange students’ needs. Although she resonated with the fact that UR gave her immense academic opportunities, she wishes she had more chances to socialize with other international students.
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“Exchange students were brought together only twice a semester. I wish there were more events for us to get to know each other better,” Ueda said. “In that way, I would have been able to make friends with people that I have not seen around campus before.”
Lastly, Ueda expressed gratitude to the UR community for all the memories she had made so far in her exchange year. Because Waseda University is non-residential, Ueda especially loved how amazing it was living together with friends, she said.
“I love staying on campus, and how you can walk around the campus any time of the day and run into your friends in random places,” Ueda explained.
Ueda described her time at UR as wonderful.
“My experience was like a dream. I am not sure if I want to go back to Japan after loving the atmosphere and the people here so much”, she said.
Contact international editor Ahona Anjum at email@example.com
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