Alexander Baxa

Alexander in an Ambassador who studied abroad in Japan
Major: Biology

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

I decided to study abroad because I knew that it would be an extremely beneficial experience for me. Not only mentally, but also emotionally and academically. I also chose to study abroad because I am always open for an adventure and I could not think of a better adventure than putting myself completely off of my guard within another country. More specifically, I chose to study abroad in Japan because I had taken 3 semesters of Japanese and from that I had gained experience with the language. I also chose Japan because through BSIS and ESL, I had already made many Japanese friends that I knew would help me to better experience their culture in Japan.

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

Taking a weekend to make a trip up to and volunteer at the tsunami affected area was definitely the most significant experience that I had in Japan. We were able to meet with affected locals as well as local Buddhist monks so that we could gain a perspective of what it must be like to experience such a disastrous event. During the trip, we were also able to help give back to the country through tsunami debris clean up. This was a very powerful experience because while digging up the foundation, we often found personal items of the past residents of the town. Such personal items being cups, pictures, clothes, etc.

Describe your overall study abroad experience.

My experience abroad was the experience of a lifetime. There is not another other time in my life that I expect to have the experience that I had in Japan. I was constantly in communication with the locals, the students, the professors. Just this simple immersion may not seem extremely exciting for people who have not been abroad yet, but I can honestly say that this simple part of your trip will have the longest lasting impression.

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?

Studying abroad really gave me the opportunity to experience something completely different from what I am used to and because of this, I am now much more open to the possibilities of the future. I am more open to dealing with those who I may have trouble communicating with or with those from a completely different background. In addition, this trip has allowed me to become much more willing to try new things. To try new foods, new adventures, new languages, and so on. No matter how many times people have to tell you, it is really an invaluable experience.

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

I recommend that if you do indeed go abroad, that you immerse yourself completely in the culture. Don't hold back. Try scary foods, experience festivals, meet complete strangers, and go everywhere.

Questions?

Do you have questions about studying abroad in Japan? Email Alex at ajbaxa@csbsju.edu