Photo Credit: Professor Yuho Nemoto
Most of the gang from the trip at a temple bonsai garden in Kyoto. From left to right: Elyssa (all other photos are credited to her), Tim, Ryan, Myself, Josh and our guide to the bonsai garden.

Many students think about studying abroad, but can end up on the fence about it. The prospect of spending time in a foreign country with only a handful of other JMU students, many of whom you won’t even be acquainted with beforehand, can definitely be scary. I know I had some apprehensions when I was preparing to go to Japan the summer between my Sophomore and Junior years.

Now, as a veteran of the program, and more importantly as someone who has seen dazzling locales, eaten amazing, local cuisine, studied language and cultural skills, and made lifelong friends, I can’t recommend studying abroad enough.

If studying abroad is something that is on your radar, then I’ll say what I think anyone else who had an opportunity like this would say, “Do It! You will NOT regret it!” Simply put, I had one of the most fulfilling and informative experiences of my life. Here, I’d like to share some snapshots from me and my classmates’ month in Japan:


Photo Credit: Elyssa Fogleman

The view from the balcony of the apartment we all shared in Uzumasa, Kyoto. The iconic roofs, power lines and narrow streets all contributed to the unique atmosphere of Japan and sparked our sense of discovery.

Photo Credit: Elyssa Fogleman

The destructively appetizing Japanese-style ramen from the local eatery we would frequent. The food was amazing, and the opportunity to practice the language with restaurant staff and other patrons was extremely enlightening


Photo Credit: Elyssa Fogleman

Me, Tim and Josh settling into our futons at a Ryoukan, a type of traditional hotel, another of the awesome opportunities for us to experience a traditional lifestyle that was so far removed from our own.


Photo Credit: Elyssa Fogleman

The gang chilling on the bridge over the moat to Osaka Castle. Japan is one of those gorgeous places where ‘new’ meets ‘old’ and you can see modern highrise buildings in the background even as you sit on the stone walls of a feudal castle.


Photo Credit: Elyssa Fogleman

The chozubachi (water basin at shinto shrines for hand washing) at one of the many elaborate shrines and temples that we were privileged to visit.

Well, thanks for looking at a few awesome images from my virtual Japan scrapbook. I definitely don’t have the space to share all of the stories and images that touched my heart during my time in Japan, but I hope that  what I’ve shared from my experience will encourage you to pursue your own. There are so many options at JMU for study abroad programs and even ways to assist with financing them! Check out the JMU Office of International Programs and forge your own pretty darn awesome story!

2 thoughts on “My Study Abroad Experience: Purple and Gold in the Land of the Rising Sun

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