Student dives into Japanese language studies and culture through study abroad program
Yasuko Kumazawa, a language instructor in the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures, will lead a group of students to Kyoto, Japan, next month for a five-week program in Japanese language and culture.
Virginia Tech junior Kaylea Arnett of Spring, Texas, was one of 10 students to study in Kyoto last summer, experiencing an environment both rooted in ancient traditions and poised for modern advances.
The Kyoto Center of Japanese Linguistic Studies and the Kyoto Japanese Language School hosted the courses. "Every morning it took three trains and a 30-minute walk to get to school," recalled Arnett, a philosophy major and a member of Virginia Tech's varsity swimming and diving team. "The route took me through the imperial palace and across a river with only stepping stones leading the way."
Students had the option to live with a local family to help further their language and cultural immersion. "My host family included a mother, father, and a little brother and sister. They did not speak any English, so it was fun to try and teach each other the languages," Arnett said.
Outside the classroom, the group toured historical sites and cities including Tokyo, Nara, and Hiroshima. "The people of Japan are very nice, and my passion for the country has grown because of the experience. I learned a lot of things on this program that a traditional classroom setting couldn’t teach me," Arnett said.
Arnett, one of the more decorated divers in Virginia Tech history, is tied for the most gold medals by any diver in the Atlantic Coast Conference, and she is a four-time ACC Championships Most Valuable Diver, and a two-time ACC Diver of the Year.
Over the course of her competitive diving career, she has met divers from all over the world. Last summer, the found herself at a swimming pool with the Kyoto Dive Team.
"I had a diving competition the day after we were scheduled to return from the study abroad program," Arnett said. Luckily, she was able to squeeze in a practice before returning home. "The Kyoto team is made up of mostly middle school students. I stuck out, but was grateful for the opportunity to practice with them."
Approximately 1,200 Virginia Tech students study abroad each year. The Global Education Office advises students and parents as they navigate an array of options. For more information about Virginia Tech in Japan and other program opportunities, contact the Global Education Office.
Written by Rommelyn Conde and Meghan McPherson, a junior majoring in English.