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What I Did in Kyoto

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Past Kyoto Student Ambassadors

Chyna Mays - Autumn 2019-2020

Studying abroad in Japan provided an escape from my STEM requirements. There were so many engaging courses available, and each class enhanced my abroad experience in different ways. My photography course encouraged me to capture my day-to-day experience while actively promoting self-reflection on how Japan influenced me. The most pivotal course that transformed my abroad experience, "Race, Ethnicity, and Diversity", raised awareness of Japanese minority groups' experiences in Japan. This course corrected my jaded perception that Japan is a homogeneous country and encouraged me to evaluate the effects of Japan's imperialistic expansion.

Varun Subramaniam - Autumn 2019-2020

...I felt the most important thing was to have no expectations. I had never travelled to East Asia, nor lived abroad for more than a month, so I wanted to experience it for what it was. I believe this mindset allowed me to have a fulfilling time, open to anything and eager to explore. I was able to connect deeply with people. I felt satisfied and thankful for the things that I did do, and understood that there was always more.

Will Gutzman - Spring 2018-19

I loved having Japanese class while I was there. The grammar and vocab we learned in the classroom was so helpful in navigating the country. Oftentimes I would end up using a new grammar structure that very same day when I went home to my host family. In fact, all the courses I took folded in with the rest of my study abroad experience nicely. I gained context for the places I visited in the country. However, work did not usually render me too busy to explore on my own.

Joy Yuzuriha - Spring 2018-19

My Japanese language skills vastly improved during my time in Kyoto. Hearing and using the language in my homestay and everyday life made me feel more comfortable with speaking Japanese. Also, I had the opportunity to take a Japanese religion class, which is a subject that I am genuinely interested in. The class was made even more enriching by the numerous field trips we took to various temples, shrines, and festivals, giving us first-hand experience with subjects we learned about in the classroom.

Renee Cai (Physics) - Autumn 2017-18

I had always known before coming to college that I wanted to study abroad — the chance to live in a different country and to completely immerse yourself in a foreign culture and language was one I knew I could not pass up. The only question was where. I discovered in my first two years at Stanford that most classes on  art, literature, philosophy, and history focus primarily on Western culture, leaving little room for exposure to non-Western thinking. Kyoto was the perfect place for me to explore an entire culture that was neglected for most of my K-12 education.

Justin Cajanding (Comparative Literature and Japanese) - Spring 2017-18

In studying abroad in Kyoto I found that it was easier to establish a more personal grasp on Japan, its culture, and its people that laid out of the scope of academic courses taken studying Japan on the home campus. With this grasp, breaking down monolithic assumptions about Japan and learning how to engage with different perspectives and viewpoints on the world especially with professors, guests, and people in their own unique fields and interests had a significant impact on me and my studies.

Annie Shi (Product Design) - Spring 2016-17

I had no idea how liberating it was to not live at school and have the ability to go anywhere without a car (public transportation in Japan is honestly the most amazing thing in the world). It was also a great opportunity to explore classes not necessarily in your major and learn about Japanese culture in the literal heart of Japanese culture (aka Kyoto).

Zane Zook (Mechanical Engineering) - Spring 2015-16

After realizing how little I knew about this half of my heritage, I tried to learn as much as I could. Coming to Stanford gave me the opportunity to learn Japanese, to join Japan-related student groups and to target my personal holy grail, the BOSP Kyoto program. 

Megan Shinbashi (Biology) - Spring 2015-16

I had always been interested in studying abroad in Japan to reconnect with my cultural roots and practice my Japanese abilities. I am also particularly fond of sightseeing, Japanese history, and Japanese food, so when the chance to study abroad in Kyoto came about, I jumped at the opportunity! 

Danny Do (Biology) - Spring 2014-15

As a premed student, I had little room to explore classes outside of the required core. In Kyoto, I was able to take a class on traditional music of East Asia and another on Japanese popular culture.

Santos Hernandez (Product Design) - Spring 2014-15

I wanted to study abroad and somewhere different and Japan has a culture completely different to western countries due to its history. The program was a great fit for me because of the amazing cultural experience as well as developing my language skills.