Message from New Zealandニュージーランドからのメッセージ




There are many benefits to studying abroad.  These are mostly improving language skill, gaining confidence, broadening your horizons, learning about other cultures and making new friends.  Hearing about these benefits encouraged me to come to New Zealand to find out if they are true.

A challenge to overcome is the inability to communicate with someone in a foreign language.  At first, as I met people who have different cultural backgrounds and language to me, I was not able to talk with these people.  In the first couple of months after I came here, I focused on listening as I did not have the ability nor the confidence to communicate.  What was worse, I was scared of trying new things.  However, as the time went on, I’ve been gaining English knowledge and I’ve been able to talk to people more easily than before.  When I was in Japan, I didn’t know there were lots of things that I didn’t know nor had I ever thought about it.  So, the first moment I was able to talk with people in English more effortlessly, I was so happy and impressed.  I rarely saw foreigners in Japan except for my teachers at school, so it was unforgettable and also one of my motivations to keep myself going.  I tended to underestimate myself until that day, but after that I could gradually develop my confidence.  I realised that the only time you grow is when you are out of your comfort zone.  Once you grasp the difficulties you face, you get to overcome them more easily than before.

Language is a really important tool in order to communicate with people.  Each day I am saying to myself ‘I can speak one language (which is Japanese) fluently without even blinking. Wow, I’m so amazing!  How do I do that!?’  It is because as I learn English, I have come to want to speak English more fluently and understand what my friends are talking about in order to join in.  However, it didn’t go as well as I hoped even though I tried harder, and I understood that it was so challenging to master a second language.

Culture is an important part of understanding a language.  Even if you master a language, you can’t truly understand your friends because the language is created based on its culture.  For example, Japanese culture is more collectivism than individualism.  Wearing the same uniforms, we are quite happy being part of a group.  On the other hand, New Zealand culture is respecting their own opinion.  People have no fear to be unique and different to other people and cherish their own individuality.  As you can see, there are obvious differences between Japan and New Zealand.  I experienced another example of the importance of understanding a cultural difference when I was sitting in class in my New Zealand school. The students were not afraid of putting their hands up and questioning the teacher’s explanation of the lesson nor did they hesitate to speak their opinion respectfully.  This was what I needed to take onboard.  Otherwise, the teacher would not know what I am struggling with.

There are many more benefits to studying abroad than I have discussed in this essay.  Gaining many benefits of studying abroad depends on you and what you are interested in.  In my case, the biggest benefit was communication with new people because I had been longing to talk with people from different cultures, since I had always lived in such a small world before.

Thank you for reading my essay.  I hope I have been successful in offering some ideas of what studying abroad is like and encouraging people who are interested in studying abroad.