Ji Hong Ni
Ji Hong Ni - Stanford in Kyoto
Major: Computer Science
Minor: Art Practice
College year while abroad: Senior
About the photo: I took this image at Osaka Castle in Osaka.
Questions and Answers with Daniel
Why did you choose to study in Kyoto?
I chose to study in Kyoto because of the beautiful scenery of Japan. From culture to traditions, from sights to food to transportation, it was amazing to learn about all the diverse spaces across the ocean.
What were your expectations before you went and how did those change once you arrived in Kyoto?
I expected a lot from Japan from my own interests and research about the program, country, and stuff but being there far surpasses all the expectations I had. The culture of respect and ways of life people had set up there made me wish that the US implemented a lot of their ways of living!
What were some of the academic benefits from studying abroad in Kyoto?
You get to learn so much about the culture and especially with classes that immerse you within the context of Japan and Kyoto. You can learn about Buddhism in Japan in the US but you can also learn about Buddhism in Japan while visiting the temples in Nara, Sanjusangendo, and so many more. The same could be said for a lot of the other classes I took but the overall message is that you gain so much more than just the knowledge but also how that knowledge is transformed in the shape of the environment.
What did you learn about yourself while you were studying abroad?
I learned so much about myself abroad, things like what I wanted to do in the future, how I interacted with others, where I wanted to travel next, and whatnot! I had the opportunity of a lifetime to hop all around Japan doing the most random of things and remembered that life was beyond the rigid systems we enter after college.
What was the most challenging experience you encountered while you were abroad and what did you learn from it?
The most challenging aspect of being abroad is being a part of society. Kyoto, of course, is a Japanese-speaking city, so everywhere we went, we had to make speak Japanese, know Japanese, and make sure we upheld the cultures and customs there. There were times when employees knew English, or we Google translate or even had our Japanese (CASK) friends with us, but cultural and linguistic immersion were definitely a hard one.
What was the biggest cultural adjustment you had to make?
One of the biggest adjustments besides language and societal norms is the transit system. Japan has one of the best train systems and even though they were really easy to use, coming from a country where cars are used the most, it was a lot different being able to just hop onto trains and buses to get somewhere.
What was your favorite part of your everyday life in Kyoto?
I loved the trains, getting to go on them every morning and back was so much fun because of the rush and people getting everywhere so it was chaos. I also liked exploring the different alley ways because they were so unique and had different personalities. One of the main differences in terms of cities, is I think the urban planning in Japan is a lot more walkable and therefore more friendly to explore.
What was the most memorable experience you had while you were in Kyoto?
Going to amazing places with friends. I explored Okinawa, Tokyo, and Osaka among many cities and it's always the best exploring new places with friends, figuring what to do, where to go, and getting lost!
What 5 words would you use to describe your experience?
Ethereal, irreplaceable, fulfilling, bliss, memorable
What was your favorite food you had in Kyoto?
What was the most valuable item you took with you on the program?
What was your favorite music/band that you discovered in Kyoto?