Business Honors senior Samantha Setyakarya traveled to Japan in the summer for a Study Abroad program. She has shared her experience from a student perspective on this blog for those who may be considering a Study Abroad program in the future.
After packing my bags and making the transition from the apartment lifestyle to the host family lifestyle, I began to notice some important advantages and disadvantages of living both lifestyles that I thought would be important to share with future study abroad students.
The first portion of my study abroad experience included living in a Japanese apartment. The entire apartment size was the equivalent of a standard American kitchen. It included a twin sized bed, a desk, television, air conditioning, a small kitchen, laundry machine, and a small bathroom that included a shower and sink. I hadn’t planned on spending too much time within the apartment; therefore, I believe the size was perfect.
One of the most important advantages of living the apartment lifestyle included having your own free time, anytime. During this time, I was able to leave and return to the apartment freely without any restrictions. If I wanted to spend time with friends late at night, I could do that without being worried about making my host family wait for me at odd hours. In addition, since I was living on my own, I was in charge of preparing my own meals, doing my own laundry and cleaning, and in the process became more independent. This lifestyle was similar to the lifestyle I would live if I were to move to Japan upon entering the work force. Whenever I made friends, it was easy for me to invite them over. If I felt like leaving the place dirty and if I wanted to shower at odd hours, I could also do that.
Host Family Lifestyle:
During my stay in the apartments, occasionally I found myself lonely. You have to keep in mind that even though you have made many friends in your host country, they all have their own lives. This aspect also enabled me to be productive in my studies.
The host family lifestyle, on the other hand, was completely different. Every day the host family cooked me traditional Japanese food, and during our meals together I was able to continuously practice the language with them. Since I found the time I spent with them more valuable than my other studies, that was my focus. I found myself staying up late just to talk with them and got to practice the language. Often times I was sleep deprived and did not get my homework done as quickly as I would have liked, but I believe that spending time with the host family was one of the most valuable parts of my experience in Japan. With the host family I was exposed to several aspects of Japanese culture and lifestyle that I would not have been able to experience on my own, it was a continuous learning process and my mind was always moving. I believe I learned the most while living with the host family when compared to the apartments. In the process they were also able to learn about American culture and I was able to create my very own Japanese family. They will be visiting me in Hawaii this upcoming winter break.
If students are given the option to choose between living in an apartment or with a host family, I would recommend living with the host family.