Dominique Saunders ’13 is a Japanese and English double major who studied at Kansai Gaidai University in Japan during spring semester of 2012. The focus of his time there was language study, as well as fostering a terrific relationship with his host family.

Dom Saunders in Japan

Of his coursework there, he stated: “My study-abroad program in Japan was to the benefit of both my majors. I took two courses, Manga in Japan and Japanese Fiction for my English Major and I had mandatory Japanese language courses as part of the program which went towards my Japanese Studies major.” 

The real work, however, proved to be the struggles and rewards of achieving a certain level of fluency. Often it requires going beyond the curriculum and truly stressing language usage in everyday life. 

“It was my first time in another country so while that alone was eye-opening enough for me, once I got to speaking more Japanese with people (and I stuck by what I learned in class), only for them to tell me that my Japanese was either too polite or hardly used. That was a shock to me because at that point I learned that in order to move towards fluency I would have to step outside of my ‘textbook language’ and learn to speak more like a real Japanese person, more colloquially.”

Dom, returned to the United States, however with a great appreciation of what he had learned in Japan

“The fact that I came into Japan barely able to speak a sentence and that I left being able to hold fairly decent conversations was something I brought back from my experience. This is significant to me because it makes me more of a ‘global citizen’ and now I can legitimately say that I have working proficiency in another language. While knowing Japanese may not be of much use to me in America, I know that I have access to several new opportunities because I can understand another language.”

Return to Student Perspectives