This post is courtesy of Zayne Bamond, ASU Study Abroad alumni. Zayne studied in Tokyo, Japan on the faculty-directed program ASU: Visualization and Simulation in Japan during the summer 2016 months. Zayne was also a recipient of the SAO Diversity Scholarship.
What inspired you to study abroad?
I had always been interested in what it would be like to travel to another country. Having rarely, and only barely, been out of the United States throughout my life, I felt as though I was missing out on the rest of the world. How is life for people in other places, with different governments, languages, cultures, etc? Would I like one of their lives better, or maybe discover a new appreciation of my own life through the experience? What could I learn from my travels? So of course, when I found a course about programming in Japan (two of my favorite things), I couldn’t resist!
Tell us about the program you went on.
The Visualization and Simulation in Japan course was a surprisingly potent learning experience given how tightly compacted it was to fit into two weeks. The course taught students how to use the Unity 3D design engine to create a 3D computer simulation of an intersection. The simulations were based on intersections, train stations, subways, or other high traffic areas in Japan, which students could choose and document as they explored on their own after classes each day. Professor Yoshihiro Kobayashi did a great job instructing the course and made it a blast both with the amazing field trips he arranged, and his great sense of humor.
How did you pay for your study abroad experience?
I would not have been able to finance this experience without the generous support from the ASU Study Abroad office with their Diversity Scholarship, the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering with their Faculty-Directed Study Abroad Scholarship, and the Grand Challenge Scholars Program with their Experiential Learning grant. The Diversity Scholarship and F-D Study Abroad Scholarship nearly covered the tuition and rooming costs, while the Experiential learning grant covered the flight round trip.
What was your biggest concern regarding study abroad? How did you overcome it?
Really my only concern was being able to finance the trip in the first place, even after paying for tuition and other up-front costs. I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to afford food or transportation or souvenirs while I was there without taking out more loans, but again thanks to all of the support I received I was able to enjoy my time abroad without fear of running out of money.
How has your international educational experience impacted your life, academically, professionally, and personally, since returning?
The experience I had abroad influenced me to change my major from Mechanical Engineering to Computer Science, and to start to complete a Minor in Japanese Language. I can easily see myself in the future having a career involving the experience I have gained and will gain as a result of taking part in this program.
Describe your favorite memory abroad.
It was a lot of fun exploring Tokyo, I never knew they made cities that big. But by far my favorite experience was exploring the Akihabara District in Tokyo. Akihabara is a huge electronics/entertainment shopping district, with a ton of arcades, comic and games shops, and other niche attractions like the maid cafes and figurine shops. I returned there numerous times throughout my stay in Japan.
Describe your future career and how you think your experience abroad has prepared you for that career.
The experience I gained directly from the experience will no doubt aid me in my upcoming college courses as well as in my future career. Unity is a widely used platform, especially in the gaming and simulation industry, and learning how to use it has given me a good head start should I ever go down that route. On top of that, while I didn’t learn much Japanese while I was there, it has inspired me to learn the language myself and make myself an international asset.
What is one thing you wish you would have known before studying abroad?
This might seem a little obvious, but it is tough to do pretty much anything on your own when you don’t know how to read! I was expecting some difficulty, but woah, if I did have my classmate who spoke Japanese with me while I was out and about, I was hopeless. It was bad enough that I couldn’t speak to anyone to save my life, but I couldn’t even read the maps or signs to tell where I was going. Getting lost that way was really easy, especially in the bustling and intricate Japanese subway and train system.
What advice would you give to future study abroad participants?
Have a travel dictionary, or maybe familiarize yourself with a few phrases of the native language that will allow you to find out things you may need to know. Perhaps like where a bathroom is, or how to get back to your hotel, or if that food has that thing you’re allergic to in it. As important as those things are, you’ll have no way of communicating them if you don’t speak the same language. Hand gestures only get you so far.
If you are a future study abroad participant interested in hearing more about Zayne’s experience abroad feel free to contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.