Gburg Abroad, Part 2: Junior Jonathan Barley-Alexander's passion for Japan

More than half of Gettysburg students spend at least one semester studying off-campus. In 2013, the Institute of International Education recognized this commitment to engaged learning when it ranked the College 5th in the nation among baccalaureate institutions for mid-length (one semester) duration study abroad. Over the past 10 years, Gettysburg has been ranked within the top 20 institutions in this same category.

Last year, 346 Gettysburg students studied abroad in 33 countries—including the Czech Republic, Hungary, Morocco, the Netherlands, Argentina, Ghana, and Greece. In this five-part series, five students share their off-campus studies stories, and how these experiences have helped to alter their perceptions and reshape their goals as they plan for their lives on campus and beyond.

Bradley Alexander '16

Jonathan Barley-Alexander ’16
Japanese Studies major, Political Science minor
Temple University – Japan Campus: Tokyo, Japan

The cultural experience in Japan was amazing. I learned so many things and experienced things I would not have if I had stayed in America, and I became more adept in hearing and understanding Japanese language. I also made many lifelong friends with whom I now I talk to on a daily basis.

On being a Japanese studies major:
Growing up watching anime and seeing Japanese culture and language undoubtedly stimulated my interest. I’d think to myself, “I wish I could watch this without subtitles and understand everything.” In high school, I took a class that helped me realize that each country depends on another, and became interested in Japan as a country and in its relations with America.

On teaching in Japan:
Host FamilyThrough my program I was able to participate in a student teaching internship at a Japanese high school. I have to admit, it was my last choice, but I am happy that it was the one that chose me. During my internship, I saw the impact of foreign language and culture on children first-hand; it plays such a huge role in how young people develop.

I plan to study abroad again next spring, and hope to get an internship with the government or a Japan-affiliated program during the summer. After I graduate, I plan to apply for the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Programme. Ultimately, I’d like to earn a master’s degree in International Education, and hope to create a multilingual school here in America.

On studying abroad as an athlete:
Before coming to Gettysburg, I met the football coach, Coach Streeter. One of the first things I told him was that I planned to go abroad. Initially, I thought it would be a problem because football is a full-year commitment, but he said I could go in the spring. One thing that I did struggle with is the fact that not many Japanese people exercise. It was kind of inevitable that as I adapted to the culture, I didn't exercise, either. I've been working out all summer to get back to my prior level of fitness, though; I'm only a few pounds away.

On his scholarships to the program:
I received two scholarships to study abroad. The first, the John Z. Bowers, M.D. ’33 and Akiko K. Bowers (LHD 2003) Endowed Scholarship, was from Gettysburg, and is given to worthy and promising students—including Japanese Studies students who demonstrate academic excellence. I also received the congressionally-funded Benjamin A. Gilman Scholarship, which aids financially-eligible U.S. undergraduate students.

Follow our five-part series on off-campus studies experiences to learn about  a student who immersed herself in the history and complexity of Israel through a semester in Jerusalem, a psychology student who chose a Washington, D.C., program to gain experience in nonprofit work, a sophomore’s participation in an elite classical studies program in Rome, and a student who spent a year tracing immigration and culture from the Maghreb into France.


Founded in 1832, Gettysburg College is a highly selective four-year residential college of liberal arts and sciences with a strong academic tradition. Alumni include Rhodes Scholars, a Nobel laureate, and other distinguished scholars. The college enrolls 2,600 undergraduate students and is located on a 200-acre campus adjacent to the Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania.

Posted: Fri, 22 Aug 2014

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