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Alumni Stories

Living in Japan

Written by: Nicole Mangin

Ever since I was a child I have been fascinated with Japanese culture; all my life some aspect of it has been present in my life. When I heard about the KIIS program, I knew that it was the perfect opportunity for me to finally visit the country that had been on my mind for years.

Though I was ecstatic when I was accepted, I was also quite nervous, it had been years since I had traveled abroad and a first time for me to study at an international location. However, I knew it was going to be a life changing experience and one that I would never forget so I bucked up the courage and got on the plane.

I double majored in Art History and Asian studies at Berea College. Initially, I was only majoring in art history, but after participating in the KIIS Japan program, I decided to go for the second major because it further convinced me that Japan was a place that is worth studying and understanding.

During the program I visited numerous temples, shrines, museums, and even a castle. For an Art History and Asian Studies major, the excursions were golden experiences. I got to personally see art and architecture that I have learned from classes and to me that was invaluable. Never did I imagine that I was going to have that experience. I visited numerous cities that showed various sides to Japan and that was enlightening because each city was unique in its own way.

For a week during the program, I stayed with a host family. It was one of the greatest weeks of my life. Their hospitality was incredibly touching. I consider them part of my family now, I visited them a year after my program completed, and we still keep in contact after all this time.

Studying abroad has considerably changed my life. Not only did I get to experience a completely different culture from my own, but I conversed in a beautiful language, interacted with a variety of people, learned a great deal from my classes, and ate some of the best food I ever had in my life.

This experience has helped me grow more confident in myself which is, in itself, priceless. I cannot stress enough how important it is to break out of your bubble and to experience other cultures, views, and ideas. We can only learn so much from books and media, you have to immerse yourself to get the true cultural experience. If you have the chance to study abroad, do it, you won’t regret it.


Nicole Mangin

KIIS Japan
Art History & Asian Studies
Berea College

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