There is no easy way to learn a new language and Sydney Chase can attest to that.
Chase, a Stanislaus State senior, finds herself in a whole new world with the same goal in mind—to complete her bachelor’s degree in three years in order to get into law school as soon as possible.
With that plan in mind, Chase is spending her fall semester at Kwansei Gakuin University in Japan and is still able to find comfort from similarities to her hometown of Turlock.
“This university gives off a similar atmosphere to being in Turlock,” said Chase. “And because of that comfortable air, adjusting was fairly easy.”
Chase has been in Japan a little over a month now, and is thankful to her professors at Stanislaus for pushing her to expand her horizons.
“I believe I would have backed away and quit before coming to Japan if they had not given me the encouragement I needed to go through with this program,” she said. “Being part of this studies program has given me the opportunity to step away and see my own culture, as well as meet people from many other countries and learn about their perceptions and differences in culture.”
The Office of International Education at Stanislaus serves as the liaison between the university and international students and urges students to take the plunge of exploring a foreign country while continuing their education.
“Students gain a more global perspective by studying abroad and they’re able to internationalize their education,” said Shondra Kaufman, assistant to international education director. “It’s also a great resume builder.”
Chase shared that her initial culture shock was the combination of the Japanese's precise scheduling and the tendency to overcrowd. She explained that public transportation, businesses, educational institutions and other such places have strict schedules which determine when a person could use the provided service and that due to the inflexibility of these schedules overcrowding becomes a serious problem.
“There are two things specifically that I miss the most,” added Chase. “One is the U.S. system of measurements and the other is Mexican food—namely tacos and burritos.”
Stepping out of a comfort zone that she's been accustomed to her entire life was not an easy task, but Kaufman shared insight to popular concerns among potential international students.
“Some students worry about the financial aspect, some worry about the safety of leaving and others it’s really just stepping out of their comfort zone,” she said. “But I’ve never had a student come back and say they've regretted going, it’s an experience you’re never going to get again… to study in a foreign country and still be a student.”
Chase records her experiences on her blog, “Days since last incident” on Tumblr.
“When I return to Stan State I look forward to finishing my studies and graduating in the spring,” she said. “I hope that I am able to implement all that I learn here to both my current studies as an English major and my future studies in the legal system.”
Chase is a great example for students who are looking to study abroad, said Kaufman.
“Our office is here to assist students and further their questions about any concerns that they may have,” said Kaufman. “You’re never going to be in this time of your life again, enjoy it.”