Pa Thao

Pa is an Ambassador who studied abroad in Japan
Major: Elementary Education

Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you decide on this program?

There were many factors to why I decided to study abroad in Japan, but one of the main reasons why I did was because I have already studied Japanese language for 5 years. Therefore, once I heard of this opportunity, I just could not let it pass by and applied. However, before I applied, it took me awhile to feel confident about my decision to study abroad. Even though I knew I have always wanted to study abroad, I could not make up my mind because I also wanted to stay involved on campus. I also wanted to apply for more leadership positions in clubs and work for my work study award. Since I could not make up my mind, I asked study abroad ambassadors who have went abroad in Japan. After listening to their inspirational learning experience and adventures, I could not wait to be in the very same position they were in. They helped me to realize that studying abroad in college is a once in a lifetime experience. It is different from a family vacation and/or just touring the country for fun. At the same time, I was also looking for something that can bend and flex me more as an individual. I thought to myself, "what a beautiful combo, to explore a country that I have always wanted to go, and to experience and bend myself to its utmost ability. That just sounds amazing!" Then, two months later, there I was, in Japan.


Briefly describe a specific cultural experience you had on your trip that made a lasting impression.

I will never forget the time when I volunteered to help be a salesperson, at a charity event. This charity event was selling donated products to help many causes in Japan. The workers were all so friendly, polite, and kind. It was amazing to see everyone worked together as a team with a constant smile on their faces. Everything was set up so fast and productively. By the end of the day, everyone kept saying thank you and gave the students and I so many gifts for their appreciation. We couldn't say no, even though we tried. The President's mother at Bunkyo University even gave us money to take a taxi back home. Japan is such a beautiful and kind culture.


Describe your overall study abroad experience.

My study abroad experience was an amazing and life-changing one. I've learned so much about the importance of culture in one's life. I've also traveled and stepped on grounds that I never would've imagined possible before. There are no words to explain how beautiful and amazing it is to see actual shrines, temples, and historical sites in Japan. Everything was beautiful, including the busy city lights and fast paced environment. It was unbelievable that I've eaten and converse in Japanese, in Japan. Every minute and second that I was there, I felt so welcome, loved, and appreciated by my host family, Japanese friends, directors, and advisers. Japan is definitely the true definition of hospitality. I've definitely learned how to be more independent, strong, curious, and adventurous.


Based on your experiences abroad, what are some of the benefits of spending a semester abroad? How has studying abroad contributed to your personal, academic, and professional development?
Spending a semester abroad was definitely benefited me personally, academically, and professionally. I don't think I would be the person I am today if I've decided to not do the semester long program in Japan. I was able to make lasting friendship with Japanese students. I've learned more about the culture and have also immersed myself in it, by practicing it. I would bow, use small words, and used small gestures because I've learned it and had time to practice it. The semester long program also gave me time to reflect on me, my culture, the American culture, and my identity. I've learned to appreciate the American's culture and its education system. I've also learned how professionalism is different from one country to another. This is definitely going to help me understand diversity and different people whom I interact with in my future career.


What advice can you offer for CSB/SJU students who are considering or planning to study abroad?

Don't be afraid to embrace in a different culture. Who knows what you can find and learn about yourself? Studying abroad will be one very life-changing experience, but only to those who utilize this opportunity to its full extent. Be open-minded, curious, and adventurous. Make new friends, try new foods, and take many, many pictures. Before all of that, look for scholarships and save up money before going abroad. It will be one of the best times in your life.


Do you have questions about studying abroad in Japan?  Email