Students Abroad, Unite!

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Nyarlathotep
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Students Abroad, Unite!

Postby Nyarlathotep » Tue Nov 20, 2007 10:04 am UTC

I'm curious to see if there are any other XKCDers who are currently studying abroad in a country not their own. Or if any of you have in the past / plan to in the future.

As may be implied by a lot of my posts, I'm currently studying in Chiba, Japan. I came here as an East Asian Studies major intending to learn Japanese and teach English upon graduating college and then become an art historian working for the Freer and Sackler museums in the Smithsonian; I'm leaving an English major who doesn't know what the hell to do with her life anymore becuase she sucks at languages and couldn't deal well with the initial culture shock. And becuase I'm also failing three of my four classes this semester.

I've had a really, really rough time, actually. I only just got over my horrible culture shock/depression and realized that Oh me yarm IM IN CHIBA TOKYO IS LIKE RIGHT THERE Oh me yarm Oh me yarm only to realize that oh shit, I have two giant essays due in like two weeks and I'm failing Japanese and oh god I'm going to die. My first month I managed to get kicked out of my homestay (long story, but I'll reiterate it here if anyone wants to know) and went through a lot of soul-searching issues.

I'm not the same person as I was when I got here. I think I've changed for the better, but it'll be interesting to see who I've become once I'm back on solid ground again.

I know that when I get back to the US I'm going to cut my hair (!!!!) and donate to Locks of Love. That was one of the first decisions I made after changing my major... I haven't cut my hair more than two inches since I was about five years old, and I think it's time for a major change and to give it up to a good cause.

So uh... anyone else...? ^_^;
'Gehȳrst þū, sǣlida, hwæt þis folc segeð?
hī willað ēow tō gafole gāras syllan,
ǣttrynne ord and ealde swurd,
þā heregeatu þe ēow æt hilde ne dēah.

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Re: Students Abroad, Unite!

Postby WraithXt1 » Tue Nov 20, 2007 10:48 am UTC

Well, I don't know if it really counts, but I'm taking college courses while I'm here in Kyrgyzstan =)

Off the record, I'm learning Russian from my translator, so far she's taught me the basics of how to communicate. Russians is has so many tough sounds for me to make, I get the feeling I sound like an idiot when I speak =\

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Re: Students Abroad, Unite!

Postby Coin » Tue Nov 20, 2007 11:25 am UTC

You are not alone!
I've been three years in England now, first taking a one year Foundation course and now doing a BEng. I havn't decided wether to extend it to an MEng yet, but I've still got plenty of time to decide.
It isn't as great a change as moving from the US to Japan, but I still find the culture here quite different from home.
(Visited Tokyo during the summer by the way. Amazing city and amazing people!)
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Re: Students Abroad, Unite!

Postby Nyarlathotep » Tue Nov 20, 2007 11:32 am UTC

Coin wrote:You are not alone!
I've been three years in England now, first taking a one year Foundation course and now doing a BEng. I havn't decided wether to extend it to an MEng yet, but I've still got plenty of time to decide.
It isn't as great a change as moving from the US to Japan, but I still find the culture here quite different from home.
(Visited Tokyo during the summer by the way. Amazing city and amazing people!)


It is an amazing city. It does wear you down after a while though x_X I'm so glad I live in Chiba, not Tokyo (I lived in Tokyo when I was with my host family. NOT FUN AT ALL.)

I'm going to miss the public transport system. The fact that I can literally go anywhere without a car is REALLY nice.
'Gehȳrst þū, sǣlida, hwæt þis folc segeð?
hī willað ēow tō gafole gāras syllan,
ǣttrynne ord and ealde swurd,
þā heregeatu þe ēow æt hilde ne dēah.

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Re: Students Abroad, Unite!

Postby Coin » Tue Nov 20, 2007 11:58 am UTC

I take it that you have visited Kabuki and No performances?
The thought of having easy access to entertainment like that would put a grin on my face any day :D
Even though I only speak simple tourist japaneese, like arigato gosaimatsu(Note: I can speak it, not spell it), I enjoyed the Kabuki show that I saw immensely. Watching the audience is half the entertainment as they can become quite exctatic at moments!
Understanding the language would be the next step in enjoying it.

Another great thing is the food. The differnet kind of noodles(Soba, Udon...), sashimi, sushi (especially at the fishmarket!), tempura, soups... I just love it =)
The most interesting meal I had was a bowl of thin noodles and ice. The noodles were pleasantly cooling in the summer heat but I was a bit afraid that I would catch a bug from the ice... "Never drink foreign water!"

And I agree about the public transport. It is very efficient and the stations are placed in the right places to give a good coverage.
The trick (for a tourist) is getting the rare and elusive tube maps in english that they hand out at certain stations to decode the station names and in which direction a train is heading.

So in what direction is Chiba located? Is it west of the city?

As a finishing tough I'll mention that I just learned that the fax-machine is a japaneese invention to speed up the transfer of documents.
(shudders at the thought of the monstrousities that were the japaneese Telex-machines)
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Re: Students Abroad, Unite!

Postby Nyarlathotep » Tue Nov 20, 2007 12:57 pm UTC

Coin wrote:I take it that you have visited Kabuki and No performances?
The thought of having easy access to entertainment like that would put a grin on my face any day :D
Even though I only speak simple tourist japaneese, like arigato gosaimatsu(Note: I can speak it, not spell it), I enjoyed the Kabuki show that I saw immensely. Watching the audience is half the entertainment as they can become quite exctatic at moments!
Understanding the language would be the next step in enjoying it.


Going to Kabuki December 2, going to Noh once my mother gets over here (she's a theatre arts professor specializing in Asian performance art)

Coin wrote:Another great thing is the food. The differnet kind of noodles(Soba, Udon...), sashimi, sushi (especially at the fishmarket!), tempura, soups... I just love it =)
The most interesting meal I had was a bowl of thin noodles and ice. The noodles were pleasantly cooling in the summer heat but I was a bit afraid that I would catch a bug from the ice... "Never drink foreign water!"


God I love noodles. It's a good thing too, otherwise I'd be quite unhappy.

Coin wrote:And I agree about the public transport. It is very efficient and the stations are placed in the right places to give a good coverage.
The trick (for a tourist) is getting the rare and elusive tube maps in english that they hand out at certain stations to decode the station names and in which direction a train is heading.

Actually, they've made all train station signs bilingual now! which is FANTASTIC.

Coin wrote:So in what direction is Chiba located? Is it west of the city?
East, actually. Narita Airport is actually in Chiba. Actually, a lot of things they say are in Tokyo are actually in Chiba >>; such as the Tokyo Game Show (which is the world's largest gaming convention now that E3 is dead)
'Gehȳrst þū, sǣlida, hwæt þis folc segeð?
hī willað ēow tō gafole gāras syllan,
ǣttrynne ord and ealde swurd,
þā heregeatu þe ēow æt hilde ne dēah.

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Re: Students Abroad, Unite!

Postby Vanguard » Tue Nov 20, 2007 3:18 pm UTC

Sorry. Born, raised, and being schooled in the U.S.

Just stamp a sticker on me "Made in the USA".
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Re: Students Abroad, Unite!

Postby SecondTalon » Tue Nov 20, 2007 3:30 pm UTC

Nyarlathotep wrote:I've had a really, really rough time, actually. I only just got over my horrible culture shock/depression and realized that Oh me yarm IM IN CHIBA TOKYO IS LIKE RIGHT THERE Oh me yarm Oh me yarm only to realize that oh shit, I have two giant essays due in like two weeks and I'm failing Japanese and oh god I'm going to die. My first month I managed to get kicked out of my homestay (long story, but I'll reiterate it here if anyone wants to know) and went through a lot of soul-searching issues.


You're going to have to tell that story.
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Re: Students Abroad, Unite!

Postby Nyarlathotep » Tue Nov 20, 2007 3:32 pm UTC

SecondTalon wrote:
Nyarlathotep wrote:I've had a really, really rough time, actually. I only just got over my horrible culture shock/depression and realized that Oh me yarm IM IN CHIBA TOKYO IS LIKE RIGHT THERE Oh me yarm Oh me yarm only to realize that oh shit, I have two giant essays due in like two weeks and I'm failing Japanese and oh god I'm going to die. My first month I managed to get kicked out of my homestay (long story, but I'll reiterate it here if anyone wants to know) and went through a lot of soul-searching issues.


You're going to have to tell that story.


tomorrow, when I'm more awake. it's like midnight here.
'Gehȳrst þū, sǣlida, hwæt þis folc segeð?
hī willað ēow tō gafole gāras syllan,
ǣttrynne ord and ealde swurd,
þā heregeatu þe ēow æt hilde ne dēah.

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Re: Students Abroad, Unite!

Postby miraidesuka » Tue Nov 20, 2007 3:38 pm UTC

I studied at Waseda University a few years ago, does that count?
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Re: Students Abroad, Unite!

Postby MoonBuggy » Tue Nov 20, 2007 3:44 pm UTC

I might end up in the US next year, depending on how my uni plans pan out. I'm intrigued to see if it really is that different a place to live than the UK or not.
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Re: Students Abroad, Unite!

Postby Razzle Storm » Tue Nov 20, 2007 4:07 pm UTC

I'm in Beijing, China, and I'll be here until next Summer studying Chinese (should be fluent by the time I leave). I've gotten used to pretty much everything. There's some days where I'm really tired, and some days where I'm ready to live here forever.

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Re: Students Abroad, Unite!

Postby Kaelri » Tue Nov 20, 2007 4:28 pm UTC

I feel a bit fraudulent calling myself an international student... I'm an American from Rochester, NY studying in Canada at the University of Toronto. So not only am I closer to home than most of my friends at their U.S. colleges, but there's nothing even resembling a cultural gap. If you're interested, the major differences, from a student's perspective, consist of 1) a lower drinking age,* 2) an exchange rate that's absolutely screwing me over, and 3) an excuse to use British spellings whenever I feel like it.

(These are, of course, aside from the ridiculous volumes of win that Toronto has to offer. But that is for another topic.)

*And even this one is useless to me, 'cause I don't drink. Brave new world indeed.

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Re: Students Abroad, Unite!

Postby Kizyr » Tue Nov 20, 2007 4:38 pm UTC

I've alluded to this before, but I'll say it more explicitly here. I studied abroad three times total.

The most significant time was for the first half of 2004 in Nagoya, where I lived in Kasugai (homestay) and went to Nanzan University (I went through IES and my home university). I also had family in Tokyo, so I visited them 3-4 times during my stay there. I also got to travel a bit around the country while I was at it.

During high school, I was in Nagoya (coincidentally) for 7 weeks in 1999, and Rio Cuarto, Argentina, for 7 weeks in 2000. Both were with AFS and homestay programs.

I can go into any detail later on if folks want, or if there's something relevant to bring up. All my experiences were great. I didn't have much trouble adapting anywhere, and the families I stayed with were amazing.

Nyarlathotep wrote:As may be implied by a lot of my posts, I'm currently studying in Chiba, Japan. I came here as an East Asian Studies major intending to learn Japanese and teach English upon graduating college and then become an art historian working for the Freer and Sackler museums in the Smithsonian;

That happens to be my favorite of the Smithsonians. Well, my favorite of the ones that are open right now. I missed the Portuguese exhibit they had earlier this year, though... Anyway.

Nyarlathotep wrote:I'm leaving an English major who doesn't know what the hell to do with her life anymore becuase she sucks at languages and couldn't deal well with the initial culture shock. And becuase I'm also failing three of my four classes this semester.

Ok I can't understand what you mean here. Are you referring to yourself in third person, or talking about an ex-roommate, in that first sentence?

Nyarlathotep wrote:My first month I managed to get kicked out of my homestay (long story, but I'll reiterate it here if anyone wants to know) and went through a lot of soul-searching issues.
I'm not the same person as I was when I got here. I think I've changed for the better, but it'll be interesting to see who I've become once I'm back on solid ground again.

I'm really curious. If you're comfortable telling the story, I'd like to hear it.

Maybe I could trade a few interesting stories myself from when I was in Nagoya 3 years back. There was one question of religion that came up.

Wraith wrote:Well, I don't know if it really counts, but I'm taking college courses while I'm here in Kyrgyzstan =)

That definitely counts! Well, assuming you're not Kyrgyz yourself. 'Study abroad' doesn't always mean through a formal program, after all.

Nyarlathotep wrote:It is an amazing city. It does wear you down after a while though x_X I'm so glad I live in Chiba, not Tokyo (I lived in Tokyo when I was with my host family. NOT FUN AT ALL.)

I like some aspects of Tokyo, but the city is just so big and tiring that I couldn't ever live there, unless I had to. Nagoya is the kind of city I could live in--not too big, not too small. By the end of my stay in Japan, I spent the last week or two with my family in Tokyo. By then, I was kind of tired of going out all the time. Occasionally I'd take a trip to Akihabara, Shibuya, or Ueno Park when I needed some moderate quiet (post-sakura).

Coin wrote:The most interesting meal I had was a bowl of thin noodles and ice. The noodles were pleasantly cooling in the summer heat but I was a bit afraid that I would catch a bug from the ice... "Never drink foreign water!"

The water in Japan is safe. "Foreign" water isn't always bad; it just depends on where you are.

You probably had soba, since those are the best noodles to eat chilled. My personal favorite is chilled soba with fresh prawns. Mmm...

Nyarlathotep wrote:Going to Kabuki December 2, going to Noh once my mother gets over here (she's a theatre arts professor specializing in Asian performance art)

Hm... I might enjoy Noh, but it's so drawn out that I'm afraid I'd fall asleep partway through. I'd have to be seeing a play that I already know (like Butsu... or was it Busu?). Kabuki and bunraku could keep me engaged the entire time, though, no problem. KF
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Re: Students Abroad, Unite!

Postby miraidesuka » Tue Nov 20, 2007 4:55 pm UTC

One of the things I miss most about Japan was the noodles. Especially ramen. There was this wonderful ramen-ya right by the station near my house that made absolutely the best ramen I've ever had.

It's on the Keio line, Chofu exit, right side of the station if you turn around and look back toward Shinjuku. I'm pretty sure it was called Kitakata something-or-other. It was right next to a pachinko parlor (what isn't?). White interior with jet black furniture. Go and enjoy.
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Re: Students Abroad, Unite!

Postby podbaydoor » Tue Nov 20, 2007 4:56 pm UTC

Razzle Storm wrote:I'm in Beijing, China, and I'll be here until next Summer studying Chinese (should be fluent by the time I leave). I've gotten used to pretty much everything. There's some days where I'm really tired, and some days where I'm ready to live here forever.


Ooh, that's cool. I've applied to get into a program in my J-school to send a bunch of journalism students to Beijing during the Olympics. We'll be working with some major Beijing news organization to write press releases and such. Any tips for living in Beijing? (I'm offspring of Chinese parents, have middling listening comprehension, somewhat poorer speaking skills, can't read or write at all. Mandarin, by the way.)
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Re: Students Abroad, Unite!

Postby zingmaster » Tue Nov 20, 2007 9:13 pm UTC

I want to study abroad sometime. Southern areas of China would be best, since I want to learn Cantonese and not Mandarin.
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Re: Students Abroad, Unite!

Postby marshlight » Tue Nov 20, 2007 9:54 pm UTC

Last winter I went over to Crete, Greece for about four weeks to study materials science and spent a handful of days in Paris on the way back. This was a program sponsored by my university and I went with about 15 or 20 kids in my major. It's quite a bit shorter than what other people have said they've done but it definitely had a significant impact on me, I think. Not only did I come back with tons of pictures, but a greater appreciation for foreign people and culture and organization and travel and olive oil and... well, a lot of things. :D

I'm now trying to figure out if I can afford to go on another winter session abroad next year, either on the engineering Australia trip or maybe to a Spanish-speaking country. Although I know you found you (Nyarlathotep) disliked learning new languages, that aspect of traveling is something I really liked. And I figure I better go immerse myself in Spanish now, because once I've graduated I doubt I'll have much opportunity. When you go yourself you don't force yourself as much to get out there and do things, so the school trips are really the best way.

Anyway aside from some animosity from bar bouncers just because we were American, I have absolutely nothing bad to say about studying abroad. Before going to Greece I'd never been out of the US but now I just want to go everywhere.
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Re: Students Abroad, Unite!

Postby Nath » Tue Nov 20, 2007 9:54 pm UTC

I'm Indian, studying in the US. There hasn't really been much culture or language shock (apart from the fact that I have to spell words incorrectly sometimes).

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Re: Students Abroad, Unite!

Postby Master Gunner » Tue Nov 20, 2007 11:02 pm UTC

Not going to university for another year or so, but when the time comes, I'm hoping to study abroad. Mainly I'm thinking about St. Andrews University, as I've seen a couple really good scholarships that I can get for there. My main problem is that if my 10 years of French courses have taught me, it's that I suck at learning new languages, so I'm pretty much going to have to stick with English-speaking countries, and as I really don't want to go to the US (no offense Americans, but I have my reasons). Of course, simply going to the other side of Canada would geographically be as much abroad as the UK is, and probably have similar levels of culture shock. As to other countries that I'd be able to communicate in, I really don't know. Other than seeing the rest of Canada and the UK, travel doesn't really interest me much, so I'll have to look into it further to see where else I might go.

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Re: Students Abroad, Unite!

Postby loratwopointone » Tue Nov 20, 2007 11:11 pm UTC

I studied in St. Vincent for six months through high school. That was kind of cool. It was a bit of a culture shock, but I preferred it over there to back in the UK by the end. Spent three months in Germany and I hated it! I stayed with a family that I really didn't get on with. They were just plain bizarre. The Mother collected stuffed squirrels.

I'd love to study abroad again, but only somewhere I felt competent at the language to communicate properly.
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Re: Students Abroad, Unite!

Postby Razzle Storm » Wed Nov 21, 2007 12:14 am UTC

podbaydoor wrote:
Razzle Storm wrote:I'm in Beijing, China, and I'll be here until next Summer studying Chinese (should be fluent by the time I leave). I've gotten used to pretty much everything. There's some days where I'm really tired, and some days where I'm ready to live here forever.


Ooh, that's cool. I've applied to get into a program in my J-school to send a bunch of journalism students to Beijing during the Olympics. We'll be working with some major Beijing news organization to write press releases and such. Any tips for living in Beijing? (I'm offspring of Chinese parents, have middling listening comprehension, somewhat poorer speaking skills, can't read or write at all. Mandarin, by the way.)


Well, since you're offspring of Chinese (I'm assuming you look Chinese), you won't be given the automatic foreigner status. Also, there's probably going to be a lot of people speaking fast Beijing-ese (lots of r's) to you, since they'll assume you're Chinese. I guess I would just learn how to say "I'm American" (wo3 shi4 mei3 guo2 ren2), if you don't already. Other than that, it's pretty awesome. Everything is much cheaper, and the food in Beijing is especially wonderful. I don't know yet if I'm staying for the Olympics or leaving the month before, but rest assured that everything is going to be super crowded and hectic during the Olympics. Also, I don't know how long you're staying, but the traveler's diarrhea can last anywhere from 1 week to 3 weeks. It's weird, because I ate lots of Chinese food before I came (actual Chinese food, not Safeway stuff), but still had it. It's just the ingredients are a little different. You don't really need to worry about reading comprehension so much, almost everything is marked in both Chinese and English, but I'd brush up on the speaking and listening, since everyone is going to assume you're Chinese at first glance.

Other than that, have fun, once I get my plans all arranged I'll probably make a topic for an XKCD 2008 Olympics meet-up.

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Re: Students Abroad, Unite!

Postby Nyarlathotep » Wed Nov 21, 2007 1:00 am UTC

Kizyr: Fucked up grammer reffering to myself in third person. Sorryyy

Ok, the homestay story... *sighs* let's see if I can tell it a billionth time.

I'm a fairly reclusive person by nature. I tend to stay in, by myself, I don't say much, and I'm very, very polite. I don't like to go out at all and I will avoid human contact for days at a time. It's just the way I am.

Now, something you must understand about the Japanese language before I explain further is that it is HIGHLY CONTEXTUAL. As in about 90% of it is implied. The problem that I have is that I'm an extremely low-context person. I miss nonverbal cues in ENGLISH (which is a very low-context language - that is, not nearly as much of it is non verbal. a lot, but not as much as Japanese). This means that when the vast majority Japanese speak English, they cut out most of the context, which leads to massive horrific communication issues.

So my host mother would say things to me like, "I'm going to the grocery store."

In English, this means "I'm letting you know that I'm going out. Don't break too much stuff while I'm gone, ok?"

To a Japanese person, this means "I want you to come to the store with me."

I was unaware of this :\

Now, keep in mind that despite my reclusiveness, I was being as polite as possible. I was offering to help out around the house, being as sociable as I felt comfortable with, being polite and smiling a lot.

So.

Cue Tokyo Game Show (world's largest gaming expo)

I warn my host mother that I am going to be out all day for the next two days. I warn her several times. Each time, she says it's OK.

So, I go. I have a FREAKING FANTASTIC TIME, see a lot of cool stuff, play demos.

I get home EXHAUSTED and spend the rest of the day sleeping.

that wendsday, my host mom calls me in and pretty much accuses me of using her. She says that all I do is come home, eat dinner, and fall asleep. I never go out with her, I never do anything with her, I haven't asked her and her husband about their families, I'm rude...

This is devastating to me. I'd already been ridiculously stressed out from being in another country, and I'd had a LOT of homework, so part of the reason I wasn't around was, frankly, that I had class all day most days and then homework to do! I couldn't be around 24/7! furthermore, I didn't know she wanted me to go to the store with her, damn it, she didn't specifcy! Finally, I, personally, think it's rude to ask very personal questions about a person's family when you don't know a person very well. Maybe that's just me and my American-ness though.

But I was so upset, becuase I'd tried. I really, really REALLY had tried to be so kind to this woman, I'd gone outside my comfort zone, I'd tried to be polite, I'd done research before I came so this very thing wouldn't happen. I was doing my best, and this... wrecked me. The combination of the stresses of being in a new country, of my mounting failures in class, of my god-awful daily commute, and the fact that my host mother was barely able to freaking articulate what she felt (she just kept repeating "you made me feel bad! very bad!" over and over) caused me to have a nervous breakdown / major depressive episode.

I left the next morning at five AM and spent the rest of the day in the IES offices crying.

The very next day they moved me into a dormitory.

Talking to the staff, it was both my fault and my host mom's. My host mom didn't want a student; she wanted a buddy to pal around with who would be there 24/7 to make her life as a housewife more bearable. And I couldn't do that even if I wanted to. Furthermore, I was a stupid, shakey American who is, again, by nature a recluse.

yeah. It fucked me up good and was one of the things that made me change my major.
'Gehȳrst þū, sǣlida, hwæt þis folc segeð?
hī willað ēow tō gafole gāras syllan,
ǣttrynne ord and ealde swurd,
þā heregeatu þe ēow æt hilde ne dēah.

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Re: Students Abroad, Unite!

Postby Twasbrillig » Wed Nov 21, 2007 1:11 am UTC

I've studied abroad... or two!
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Re: Students Abroad, Unite!

Postby bbctol » Wed Nov 21, 2007 1:18 am UTC

Wow, Nyarlathotep, that story... really sucks.

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Re: Students Abroad, Unite!

Postby Coin » Wed Nov 21, 2007 1:42 am UTC

That does indeed sound like a horrible experience. For what it is worth you have my sympathy.
The culture- and language barrier can really mess things up.
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Re: Students Abroad, Unite!

Postby Nyarlathotep » Wed Nov 21, 2007 2:07 am UTC

Yeah... the worst part is that she really was a very nice lady and it could have been great, staying with her, but on both ends it just didn't work out. And it kinda made me realize that I'm not nearly as culturally aware as I like to think I am.

I'm doing a lot better though. I was really, really messed up for a few weeks there, but I'm ok now.
'Gehȳrst þū, sǣlida, hwæt þis folc segeð?
hī willað ēow tō gafole gāras syllan,
ǣttrynne ord and ealde swurd,
þā heregeatu þe ēow æt hilde ne dēah.

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Re: Students Abroad, Unite!

Postby Kizyr » Wed Nov 21, 2007 2:42 am UTC

Nyarlathotep wrote:Ok, the homestay story... *sighs* let's see if I can tell it a billionth time.

A lot of what you said makes sense... I think it was the result of miscommunication both ways. I don't think it's that bad a situation, since I think I can understand where both you and your host mother were coming from.

Yes it is true that being 'culturally aware' also includes being able to get along with your host family in these kinds of situations. Her expectations that you'd ask after her family, go to the store with her (when it's implied), spend some time with her, (call home whenever you won't be home by 6, let her do your laundry, etc. etc.) are all pretty common.

But... taking care of an international student also requires understanding what culture they come from. So... just as much as you were expected to understand where your host mother was coming from, I'd say she really should have understood where you're coming from, and to expect some differences in how things go. I mean, if there's not that initial patience coming from her end, then it's a bit unfair to expect you to learn her way of doing things all at once without making any mistakes...

I don't mean to contradict anything you're saying. I'm really agreeing with you... But I wanted to say that, to me, it looks like a lousy situation that came out of misunderstanding, not meanness on either end.

Nyarlathotep wrote:So my host mother would say things to me like, "I'm going to the grocery store."
In English, this means "I'm letting you know that I'm going out. Don't break too much stuff while I'm gone, ok?"
To a Japanese person, this means "I want you to come to the store with me."
I was unaware of this :\

Unfortunately, speaking Japanese like you'd speak English doesn't usually cause the same kind of problems that the reverse can cause... That's why speaking another language is a different form of expression, not just translating stuff.

Nyarlathotep wrote:This is devastating to me. I'd already been ridiculously stressed out from being in another country, and I'd had a LOT of homework, so part of the reason I wasn't around was, frankly, that I had class all day most days and then homework to do! I couldn't be around 24/7! furthermore, I didn't know she wanted me to go to the store with her, damn it, she didn't specifcy! Finally, I, personally, think it's rude to ask very personal questions about a person's family when you don't know a person very well. Maybe that's just me and my American-ness though.

Eh, yeah, asking after family is pretty common, and polite. Different things are considered personal information that way.

Nyarlathotep wrote:I left the next morning at five AM and spent the rest of the day in the IES offices crying.
The very next day they moved me into a dormitory.

Some folks I knew while at Nanzan (IES and non-IES) did do better in a dorm anyway. It depends on the kind of person you are, really.

Nyarlathotep wrote:Talking to the staff, it was both my fault and my host mom's. My host mom didn't want a student; she wanted a buddy to pal around with who would be there 24/7 to make her life as a housewife more bearable. And I couldn't do that even if I wanted to. Furthermore, I was a stupid, shakey American who is, again, by nature a recluse.

I'd say it's more so because she wasn't understanding the level of adaptation on her part, which caused all that miscommunication. It could be both, but based on what you've said, I think it's mostly this. Oh, and fix'd.

If I can think of any particularly good stories from when I was abroad, I can relate some of them later. A few I have written on my xanga during 2004, as well. KF
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Re: Students Abroad, Unite!

Postby Nyarlathotep » Wed Nov 21, 2007 3:08 am UTC

I think a dorm is a much better choice for me. I'm not the most emotionally stable person anyway (I've got a long history of all sorts of depression / anxiety disorders and am pretty heavily medicated x_X ) and through the years my family's found that oddly, I do best when I live alone but see people every day. I need my safe zone to disconnect from the world.
'Gehȳrst þū, sǣlida, hwæt þis folc segeð?
hī willað ēow tō gafole gāras syllan,
ǣttrynne ord and ealde swurd,
þā heregeatu þe ēow æt hilde ne dēah.

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Re: Students Abroad, Unite!

Postby Sartorius » Wed Nov 21, 2007 3:51 am UTC

I'm going to study abroad this summer for two weeks in Costa Rica. Nyarlathotep's story makes me glad it's with a class rather than a host family.
"Give a man a fire and he's warm for the day. But set fire to him and he's warm for the rest of his life." -Terry Pratchett

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Re: Students Abroad, Unite!

Postby WraithXt1 » Wed Nov 21, 2007 7:31 am UTC

I dated an exchange student from Belgium my senior year of high school, so I can see how this would happen. Annick's host family used her as a babysitter for their kid 90% of the time. Poor girl didnt get to see much but the inside of her host familys house =(

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Re: Students Abroad, Unite!

Postby Kizyr » Wed Nov 21, 2007 3:23 pm UTC

Sartorius wrote:I'm going to study abroad this summer for two weeks in Costa Rica. Nyarlathotep's story makes me glad it's with a class rather than a host family.

Nyarla's stories really shouldn't discourage you from staying with a host family. The fact is that some folks work better in a homestay, some work better in a dorm (and, contrariwise, some families aren't really that suitable to taking on an exchange student). (Although, since you're only there for 2 weeks, there's not a lot of point to staying with a family anyway...)

I had a fantastic stay all three of my times studying abroad--each time I was with a family. The most recent time in 2004 couldn't have been any better. My family was just outside of Nagoya, in Kasugai, they had a lovely house, and I got along well with the rest of their family (including two grandchildren), and, overall, it was great. Also, even though I have some dietary restrictions (I only eat halal meat, but that doesn't apply to seafood), my host mother understood and just switched to making lunch/dinner with seafood instead of regular meat (...I still miss the squid-curry that she made one day). Coincidentally, my host father traveled a lot for business, and often went to Calcutta. So, he developed a taste for Indian food and had things like hot mango pickle in the fridge (that he let me help myself to at dinnertime). Not to mention that they've had Bangladeshi and Indian students stay with them before--since I'm second-generation Bangladeshi, that helped even more with my own acclimation there.

It did require some adaptation on my part. I spent a lot of time with them, and always made sure to call several hours in advance if I knew I wasn't going to be home at dinnertime, for instance. Also, even if I disagreed with them on something minor, I'd go along with their suggestion(s) anyway, whereas normally I have a bit of a tendency to be stubborn.

Though, usually my host mother ended up being right on those occasions. Once, I was going on a day-trip to Nara with two of my friends, and I told my host mother that we might end up staying in Kyoto overnight. The weather was crystal clear, but she told me to bring an umbrella just in case. I didn't think it was necessary, but took one anyway. We ended up going to Nara (where the weather was clear) and Kyoto thereafter to stay the night. The following day it was pouring in Kyoto, of course.

I should qualify, though... When I was there in 2004, and when I was in Argentina in 2000, I spoke enough Japanese and Spanish to speak with both my host families pretty easily. In 1999 in Japan, I didn't speak much Japanese, but my host parents then spoke fluent English and had several exchange students there in the past, so that made things much easier.

All I'm getting at here is that everyone has a different experience. It depends on the person, the family you're with, and many other things. I happened to have a fantastic time whenever I was with a family. KF
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Re: Students Abroad, Unite!

Postby Nyarlathotep » Wed Nov 21, 2007 3:29 pm UTC

Yes, please don't let my horror story discourage you! Most everyone else on the trip is having a fine time with their host families despite a few rough spots.

My other issue is that my Japanese was nearly nonexistant beforehand and a number of other issues (problems with verbal communication in my NATIVE language, for one) So don't let my story define what you do.
'Gehȳrst þū, sǣlida, hwæt þis folc segeð?
hī willað ēow tō gafole gāras syllan,
ǣttrynne ord and ealde swurd,
þā heregeatu þe ēow æt hilde ne dēah.

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Re: Students Abroad, Unite!

Postby Sartorius » Tue Nov 27, 2007 8:40 pm UTC

Well, much of my decision to do a prof-led study abroad is because of the convenience (they set everything up and I just pay them) and I can't really afford to study abroad and not get credit for school. I've looked into a couple of programs, and where I want to go either doesn't support my major or requires me to be fluent in the language.

Nyarlathotep, I hope you're having fun in Japan now and that all of your issues are resolved. :D
"Give a man a fire and he's warm for the day. But set fire to him and he's warm for the rest of his life." -Terry Pratchett

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Re: Students Abroad, Unite!

Postby thecommabandit » Tue Nov 27, 2007 9:55 pm UTC

I was thinking I might try and study abroad when I finish my IB. Hopefully I'll be able to speak a smattering of Spanish by the end of the course so I could always go to Spain or a Latin American country. The US would be another choice, but the flights won't be cheap and supposedly the unis are way more expensive over there.

I would love to go somewhere further afield, like Japan (I went on an exchange trip to Mikuni-Cho a few years ago, I loved it even though I could only barely say what my name was and what my interests were) but the language barrier would be a trouble. Plus, the problem with studying abroad would be all the different words for important things in the courses, especially if I were to study physics like I want to.

Awesome, thinking about this has derailed me and now I have a bunch of tabs open about studying in Japan, Spain and America.
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Re: Students Abroad, Unite!

Postby Sartorius » Wed Nov 28, 2007 6:52 pm UTC

I'm pretty sure that Uni over here in America is more expensive than in the UK. If you do study over here, make sure to get into a decently prestigious private university, because you'll probably be paying that amount at a state school (for out-of-state tuition).
"Give a man a fire and he's warm for the day. But set fire to him and he's warm for the rest of his life." -Terry Pratchett

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Re: Students Abroad, Unite!

Postby 22/7 » Wed Nov 28, 2007 8:10 pm UTC

I did a "study tour" through Southeast Asia and spent a semester in Australia (Perth). I'm planning on doing some more traveling as soon as I graduate (May).
Totally not a hypothetical...

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Re: Students Abroad, Unite!

Postby Nyarlathotep » Fri Nov 30, 2007 9:23 am UTC

Sartorius wrote:I'm pretty sure that Uni over here in America is more expensive than in the UK. If you do study over here, make sure to get into a decently prestigious private university, because you'll probably be paying that amount at a state school (for out-of-state tuition).


By a LONG shot, yes. School in the US =/= cheap. On the other hand our schools ARE very, very good (not joking. For all the other issues the US has, we have some of the best schools in the world)

FOR THE RECORD, don't get sick whilst abroad. Especially if you don't have more than the most basic possible vocabulary. x_X; Flu in a country where none of the doctors speak your language = horrific.

Basically, there's a horrible flu epidemic going on now in Japan, due to firstly unnatural weather patterns and secondly that NO ONE in Japan does the flu shot thing. I, unfortunately, managed to catch this nasty. I think it's probably becuase stress has murdered my immune system in the face.

In short: DAMN YOU JAPAN. I LITERALLY had one month to go in this god-forsaken country and I had to get the motherfucking flu.
'Gehȳrst þū, sǣlida, hwæt þis folc segeð?
hī willað ēow tō gafole gāras syllan,
ǣttrynne ord and ealde swurd,
þā heregeatu þe ēow æt hilde ne dēah.

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Re: Students Abroad, Unite!

Postby SpitValve » Sat Dec 01, 2007 3:06 pm UTC

One advantage of doing grad school in the US or Canada is funding is MUCH easier to get... and if funding is the difference between being able to go to grad school or not, then that's a pretty major thing.

But on the topic of this thread: I'm from New Zealand, studying my astronomy PhD on the east coast of Canada. I'll be here for another 3 1/2 years at least :)

As for getting sick in Asia, if they check your blood type, make sure they check if you're positive/negative. They didn't bother for me, because apparently (almost) all Asians are the same +/- thing, but different letters. Can't remember which out of +/- it is, though.

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Re: Students Abroad, Unite!

Postby Hit3k » Wed Dec 05, 2007 10:02 am UTC

Instead of making a new topic about this I thought I'd ask it here.

I plan on studying overseas i.e in America or England. I was wondering what those of you studying in countries that aren't your own do for jobs. Can you work on a student visa or whatever it is that lets you study or do you need to apply for a work visa? The reason I'm asking this is hopefully obvious, but if it isn't I'm gonna want to earn money while I'm away to pay for.. well.. food and other things(beer). Thanks for your help.
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