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Why study abroad?
7 good reasons why you should study a foreign language abroad as a mature age student/traveler.
1. A lot of people recommend that you should study abroad while you are at college age and still “young and free” etc. They talk about how “a semester abroad” can look good on your resume, but blah blah blah.
With extra blah.
It is great of course to have the opportunity to study and travel while young, but you learn more, understand more, perceive more, when you already have some life experience under your belt. Whether you are 30 or 70, you will have insights that no 18 year old will ever know. Why stop learning? Why stop traveling?
2. You will meet and make great friends. People who are interested in learning, and travel, and in enjoying life to the fullest, will almost always be the best people you will ever meet. You really want to meet these people.
3. There are very few things that you can’t get a fresh perspective on from traveling and learning a new language. If in doubt, just go anyway.
4. You get to live and experience ordinary life as a local. If you have a passion for something, why not immerse yourself in it while you can? Tomorrow might not come.
5. Learning a new language as an adult or improving your language skills is good for the brain, but it also helps you escape guidebooks, meet locals, understand the culture better (and order some seriously awesome food that you wouldn’t otherwise be able to enjoy).
6. It can actually be useful with your career/job. On a more important note, it is extremely useful when you want to ask that very cute person on the other side of the room out for a coffee etc.
7. You are on this planet precisely once. Do you really want to have any regrets?
Why study abroad in Japan?
7 good reasons why you should study Japanese in Japan as a mature age student/traveler.
1. The fact you are reading this suggests you are interested in either learning Japanese, or have been to Japan and/or studied Japanese in Japan before. So why stop? Why “write off” the time you have already invested, and forget what you have already learned? Some of our students have studied Japanese in Japan many times, some are here for their very first time. The secret is that the more you learn, the more fascinating the place becomes. Some language learners in Japan develop a love/hate relationship with the place, however once you really understand what is going on around you, everything keeps getting better.
2. Pronunciation. There is no better way to improve your pronunciation than to speak with and listen to native speakers of the language every day. Not just your teachers, but every person you meet. Especially good for listening skills of course. From the “check out chick” at your nearest supermarket, to the local bus driver, or the man sitting a few seats away at the counter of a local izakaya who says “that looks good” when he sees your food arrive.
3. The food culture, politeness, hospitality, technology, shrines, craft beer, scenery, festivals, experiences, beaches, temples, skiing, fine sake, wine, food, baseball crowds, football & travel (especially onsen), creativity… where can you possibly stop?
4. Despite protestations to the contrary by almost all Japanese people, Japan is a BIG country. Not just in terms of population or economy, geographically Japan is HUGE. It is larger than Germany (it is the 4th largest of the original G7 countries, and 10th largest of the 33 countries in the OECD), so it takes time to get around. 4 of the world’s 10 busiest domestic air routes, and ALL 10 of the world’s busiest train stations (as of 2014) are in Japan, and language skills open up everything. There is so much to see, explore, enjoy, but the best places are off the beaten track. The JR Rail Pass is great, but what you want is either an IDP or a local driver’s license. Once you get into remote areas, the countryside is a treasure trove. The key to opening that treasure trove is of course to talk and listen to the older people (who with rare exceptions will rarely ever speak any foreign language, and sometimes only their local dialect). Seriously, always take the time to listen to the older people you will meet. With dialects etc sometimes it can be hard to understand them at first, but be patient. Once they open up, you won’t regret what you will learn.
5. Affordability. Once you improve your listening, speaking, reading and writing skills (usually in that order), Japan becomes an affordable place to experience, explore and enjoy. Even in the mega-cities of Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya etc, eating out can actually often be cheaper than shopping and then cooking your own food. There are many local street markets and green grocers, and if you eat like a local you’ll find that you spend like a local. Plus, you will meet more people.
6. Infrastructure. The Shinkansen (“bullet train”) is well known. What isn’t quite as well known is the rest. “Ordinary” trains, subways, bus networks, expressways… Everything is punctual, clean, safe, reasonably affordable. The expressways are of similar quality to Germany’s autobahn network (possibly better actually, but with speed limits). Sometimes you really want to push that accelerator to the floor… …but, don’t do that.
Even so, the expressways are a great way to travel. Especially if you are heading to the ski fields in Nagano for example. If you share the driving, it is much cheaper than the trains.
7. It can and may change your life. You never know!