Senior student of Exercise Science / College of Education and Human Ecology / Department of Human Sciences

This experience was even more than I could have hoped for. Japan is a beautiful place with a wonderful culture and wonderfully kind people. The respect I witnessed from children to their elders, among peers, and towards myself as an outsider was nothing like I have experienced in America. Seeing this, and the academically and athletically renowned University of Tuskuba, opened my eyes to just how big the world is and just how little I know about it. 

I would love to return to Japan in the future, though based on my current academic trajectory, sadly I do not believe I will be able to study at UT. However, this experience taught me a valuable lesson I will take with me into my career as a physician. 

Before this trip, I have spent time working in healthcare and have helped treat non-English speaking patients. In these situations, a translator app was used and I did not think anything of it because all the information seemed to be exchanged. This trip was my first time being in a place where I did not speak the major language of the area. I now see just how stressful this experience may be for patients. The helplessness I felt trying to simply order food with the aid of pictures I’m sure is minuscule compared to the helplessness, stress, and anxiety non-English speaking patients may feel when worried about their own wellbeing in the American healthcare system. Because of this experience I now have a better understanding and am able to better empathize with patients that may not speak the same language as me. This experience was one of the most amazing of my life and it has prepared me to be a better physician.