By Lian Eytinge
When I was a junior at USC, I spent the entire academic year abroad in Tokyo, Japan. I went because I wanted to learn more about what life is like in a different culture, as well as immerse myself in a language other than my own. While abroad, I realized three major ideas that helped me navigate my time in Japan, thus enriching my experiences. Now that I’m back in my home country, I’d like to pass these ideas on to any international student who is studying here at USC and struggling with the language.
1. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes! I know it can be scary to speak in a different language; you don’t want to mess up or look stupid in front of people. I learned that from speaking with lots of different people in Japanese that it is okay to make mistakes and that native speakers won’t think badly of you for messing up. I know it is hard to believe but if you just push forward and try to communicate your idea, you can learn more and develop your speaking skills better than not speaking up at all. To get in the mindset of speaking freely, I thought to myself: “This is a great chance to get to learn a language through talking to native speakers. I won’t get a chance like this for a long time. I have to seize this opportunity!”
2. Do not be afraid to reach out for help. If the native speaker is talking too fast or you cannot understand the words they are saying, try asking them to repeat themselves slowly or ask them to say it in a different way. Native speakers understand you are learning and will try to accommodate you as best they can! After all, it is harder for you to translate what they say and speak your opinion than it is for them as a fluent speaker to repeat their sentence slower. You might initially think it is rude to ask someone to repeat themselves but, I can assure you, it is not. Asking someone to repeat themselves means that you care about what they have to say and that what they are talking about is important for you to fully understand.
Continue reading A Few Things I learned from Studying Abroad
By Rachel Essel
When I studied abroad in St. Petersburg, Russia, the only way for me to get around besides walking was public transportation. If you’re not familiar with St. Petersburg’s geography, the city consists mostly of two main islands and sections of mainland and I lived on one of the islands with my host family. Due to the nearest metro stop to me being closed for remodeling, I had to take mostly buses and trams everywhere which made things a lot more complicated.
The first day of school my host mom actually took me there, and we left while it was still dark out to get on a tram, to go to the next closest metro stop to meet my fellow students where a bus would take us the rest of the way to school. It was so confusing and took so long and then my host mom drops this bomb on me: I won’t actually be taking that route to school, that was just to meet at the correct metro stop the first day. So at the end of the day my host mom takes me out to where I will catch a bus that will take me all the way to school the next morning.
Continue reading The Triumph of Navigating a New Bus System
By Matthew Payton
Let me start off by saying my title is a partial fabrication. Technically, my roommate Daniel barely falls into the international student category; he was born in America and has lived here for almost half his life. More specifically, Daniel grew up in beautiful Simi Valley, CA, but he moved to Shanghai when he was 9 and stayed there until the ripe age of 18. Daniel is half white and half Japanese, so he already knew the struggles of not looking like everyone else. This was nothing though compared to the culture shock he would receive in Shanghai, a place halfway across the world where absolutely no one looked like him. However, the surprising realization to which he eventually came was that those 9 years in Shanghai were the greatest of his life (besides living with me, of course).
This fall semester he is back in Shanghai, experiencing an amazing internship at the prestigious Deloitte Consulting Firm. Anyone would be ecstatic to be employed at this high-profiled company, but Daniel is more focused on the happiness of being back in a little place he likes to call home. I messaged him during his first week of the internship and he talked my ear off about how much he loves being in Shanghai. Only a couple days in, he had already bought seven knock-off but well-made items and had indulged in endless amounts of Yangchun noodles and Sheng Jian.
“And what about the job??” I asked, expecting more gloating about the amazing life he now has.
Continue reading The Tales of My Partly International Roommate