Meet Grace Yon, a native of San Francisco who just graduated from UM with a degree in Japanese and literature with an emphasis in writing. Grace has enjoyed spending time with her family that recently relocated to Montana before she attends a one-year master’s program pursuing Translation Studies at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. Grace studied abroad through Kumamoto University in Kumamoto, Japan for a full academic year in 2012-2013. We interviewed Grace about her experience abroad as well as her upcoming excursion to Scotland!
Grace and her grandmother pictured at Nagasaki
What are you looking forward to the most about attending grad school in Scotland?
It will feel like studying abroad again! My mom is from England originally and I have European citizenship. I will still be on my own again, which is daunting but fun and It will also be a different environment. A lot of the friends I made while abroad were from Europe so I feel like it will be like having a reunion with my international friends.
Did you find difficulty making friends?
I didn’t at all, I was nervous the first couple days. It’s like when you start college everyone’s in the same situation. Within the first couple days I met people that I became friends with for the rest of the year. I lived within a minute walk of my international friends. My school was really good about integrating International and native students together. There was an international study lounge where a lot of people went who wanted to practice different languages, or to hang out there. International clubs at Kumamoto University, kind of like UM’s International Student Association, organized university-sponsored trips and fun cultural activities so that exchange students could get to know each other. I also joined a club on campus and was the only non-Japanese student there, which was how I made a lot of my friends.
What do you feel from studying abroad will last the longest with you?
I was in an immersion program, where I learned so much language. I learned how to be independent and adaptable. You get that to a certain degree when you first go to college, but studying abroad is on a higher level. Often you’re in a place where English isn’t the main language so there is often a language barrier. Even English speaking countries have different customs and cultures. Learning that you can do that, and can live in a foreign country is a really good feeling. I now feel a lot more comfortable going on an international trip. I feel like I grew up a lot there, like managing my money and figuring out what I needed to do for the day.
Grace (located on the left) at the Japan-U.S. friendship dinner at her host university.
If you had a chance, would you study abroad at the same location or in a different country?
I loved where I was, I would love to travel more in Japan. However I would probably like to go to another place and have the opportunity to travel more. I’m looking forward to going somewhere internationally for grad school!