Study Abroad


Ayaka Maekawa

Looking back on it, my year abroad in the United States, which started in 2011, was a major challenge for me. When I headed to America I was in a dream state, thinking, “I’m going to have lots of experiences in my year abroad” and “I’ll be able to deepen my knowledge of education.” But as soon as I arrived, I was faced with reality. The school I had selected was St. John’s University in New York, and when I got there I heard English flying like arrows around me and the discussions were dense. I was overwhelmed by the volume of daily assignments given to us. If I picked up a new habit in America, it was to be “assertive” and “take action.” Whether it was in my classes or in my dorm life, the excuse that “I’m a foreign student” just wasn’t acceptable. So if I didn’t understand something, I would be assertive and ask questions. In order to join in a circle of friends, I also had to be able to take action. The thing that I was most pleased about was that through these types of everyday efforts, I was able to improve my English skills and successfully used those skills in the form of a class “presentation.” I spoke on the topic of “differences in US and Japanese education,” and in addition to receiving very positive comments from my professor, I was able to get my classmates interested in Japan. The fact that I was able to have that experience was thanks to the thorough English-language training I received at Sophia University. It is a big mistake to think that just by studying abroad you will be able to speak English fluently. I realized through my own experience that your ability to have a fulfilling life as a foreign student is very much dependent on the language skills you develop in Japan before you go.