Undergraduate Student Blog, Speaking of Princeton

Undergraduate Student Blog

Author: Kovey Coles ’15

Fork Union, Virginia • Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs View Profile

Hello From Japan!

International experiences

Hello from Japan!

I am writing my blog entries now from my dorm room at Keio University, sitting by my window that overlooks the glowing city of Tokyo. Though the sun is setting here, I know that my family and friends across the world are just waking up along America's East Coast.

This is my third time going abroad as a Princeton student, so I am used to this extreme space and time difference. The summers after freshmen and sophomore year, I studied in China and worked in India, respectively, gaining exposure to the international perspective. As someone whose primary academic interest is international relations, I love to travel and experience new cultures as often as I can.

On the Great Wall of China
On the Great Wall of China, summer after Freshman Year

Though I am back in Asia once again, this is my first time actually spending a semester as a study-abroad student, and I will consequently be spending my longest time away from home. Four other Princeton students and I are taking part of a brand new Comparative East Asian Studies program hosted through the Woodrow Wilson School. The program includes study and internship across Japan, Korea, and Hong Kong, extending over the summer and spanning in total six months.

A lot of my friends back on campus questioned why I would devote so much of my time with Princeton living and traveling abroad. But I simply can't turn down the wonderful Princeton study abroad opportunities, especially when they are subsidized by scholarships and financial aid. More important, many of my greatest college experiences have come outside of the Orange Bubble, and outside of the United States. In my opinion, many more students should gain international experience while in college (it's one of the easiest times to do so), and I hope more departments adopt an international experience requirement similar to that of the Woodrow Wilson School.

Red Fort in New Delhi
Red Fort in New Delhi, India, this past summer

This semester, and this new adventure abroad, has just begun. Things I instantly love about Japan are the foods, the hospitality, and the pop-culture. Though I’ve only been here two weeks, I’ve already learned so much about Japanese language and culture from classes and my new friends (from the latter, I've mostly learned fun slang terms). I’m stoked to see what Korea and Hong Kong have to offer over the next few months. You’ll continue to hear from me on this blog during my program, both about campus life and life abroad. For now, Sayonara!

An awesome tree near Tokyo, Japan.[/caption]