International Studies & Programs

First-time traveler to Japan

This was my first time leaving the continent and I can say with no reservation that my life has been changed for the better.

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Published: Thursday, 14 Dec 2023 Author: Joseph Guerra

Joseph taking selfie on street in TokyoI am writing this testimonial to convey my appreciation and gratitude to the donors who make study abroad opportunities possible. I was fortunate enough to receive a scholarship that helped facilitate my program to Kyoto, Japan, this past May. This was my first time leaving the continent and I can say with no reservation that my life has been changed for the better.

As said, I have never travelled internationally before so my “fish out of water” experience began as soon as I stepped off the plane in Tokyo. After transferring to the domestic flight terminal, I was immediately surrounded by people speaking a language that I do not. Everything was written in a language I could not understand. Despite this, the people I met at the terminal could not have been more friendly to me even though it could not have been more obvious that I was from elsewhere. Japan is famous for the courtesy and affability inherent to their ethos surrounding professionalism and that became immediately apparent to me.

The first day that our entire group assembled we got a whirlwind tour of Kyoto proper. From riding the city subway to walking through the former Imperial Palace grounds right across from Doshisha University (where we had class four days a week), we got to experience it all. Highlights for me include visiting Kinkaku-ji Temple in Kyotothe internationally recognizable Kinkaku-ji Temple in northwest Kyoto. Against the backdrop of the surrounding mountains, the shrine could not have been more majestic to see in person. We also visited the Kiyomizu-dera Shrine in north Kyoto. The wooden trestle work, which was painted a bright orange, struck a remarkable contrast with the surrounding natural splendor.

Beyond the cultural sites, we also got to travel to many surrounding regions via Japan’s high-speed rail system. I got to travel to Tokyo for a weekend and visit the current Imperial Palace grounds and spent a great deal of time in Akihabara, which is the go-to location for fans of Japanese media. These experiences will stick with me forever and I am looking forward to going back at some point in the future.

Name: Joseph Guerra
Status: Graduate
Major: Law
Hometown: Mesick, Michigan
Program: MSU Law and the Relationship Between Japan and the USA