The Study Abroad Newsletter

Finishing My First Semester Abroad

Caitlyn Tsuchiya

Linguistics major
Hijiyama University in Hiroshima, Japan

Group Photo of people sitting at tables

It's been a crazy and great experience being in Japan. As I finish my first semester studying abroad, I can only look forward to what the next semester has in store for me as I improve my language skills, strengthen my friendships with other students, and explore even more of this amazing country.

My name is Caitlin Tsuchiya and I'm studying at Hijiyama University in Hiroshima, Japan where I am working on my Japanese Studies major.

I've done a lot of exciting things both with other students at my university and on my own. At my university, I am fortunate enough to have "Ryūgakusei Supporters," or "International Student Supporters," who have helped me adjust to my life in Japan. They have also organized some day trips for the international students, who hail from Korea, China, and Vietnam amongst other countries. One of these day trips was visiting the city of Iwakuni in the nearby Yamaguchi prefecture, where a guide told us about the history of Kintaikyō bridge and Iwakuni Castle. The bridge was first built in 1673 to withstand the strong currents of the Nishiki River and stood until 1950, when a violent typhoon destroyed it. It was rebuilt in 1953 and is currently under renovations, but it is still a surreal feeling crossing an iconic bridge with such a rich history. It was tons of fun, as at one point we stopped to get a taste of the street food and some ice cream. It was one of the few times I didn't feel like I stood out like a sore thumb and instead felt like a part of the group. The first picture that is attached is a picture of our group eating lunch at a restaurant, where kitsune udon and the unique Iwakuni sushi were served.

While studying abroad in Hiroshima, I celebrated my 20th birthday. I am fortunate enough to also have the support of my family, who have also given me endless support and are always willing to go out of their way to help me. 20 is an important age in Japan and there is even a Coming of Age Day in January to celebrate new adults. When a female becomes 20, they often celebrate this by having professional photos taken in a kimono... which my family arranged for me to do. It was really a once-in-a-lifetime experience, especially with the fact I came to Japan to study the language and culture, I am so thankful I was able to do this. It was honestly so cool being dressed in that kimono and I was also able to make some small talk with the people helping me. I was able to experience the unique culture of Japan and I would never have been able to do this if I didn't take that step to come here in the first place and expand my horizon and experiences.