Alumna Unique Edwards ‘14 – Beppu, Japan
When I enrolled at Bennett College in 2010, I had no idea I would study abroad. I always had a love for foreign languages and traveling, but I did not know I could incorporate travel into my collegiate experience. As I was meeting some of my new sisters, I became intrigued about their journeys in Africa, Europe and Latin America! It was not until I heard Dr. Malveaux and the Director of Global Studies speak in ACES that I knew I wanted to travel abroad.
As an only child, my parents were nervous when I told them I could be living in Russia, Tanzania, or Israel for a year. After speaking with the Director and my father, I choose to study in Japan. The Director of Global Studies assisted me every step of the way. Bennett paid for my passport, let me use Rosetta Stone to learn Japanese and helped me secure the Benjamin A. Gilman Scholarship. The preparation to study abroad took many steps, but in September of 2012 the hard work paid off.
With GlobaLinks, I participated in a host family program, made traditional Japanese noodles at a volcano, went on tours of traditional castles, ate unique foods, and stepped on a forbidden temple ground. I lived on the southern island of Kyushu near Okinawa in Beppu. Many of the people there had never seen an African American individual. I was able to participate in a Peace Exchange in Kyoto, teach English to elderly locals, do karaoke with my peers and teach them about Black and American culture.
While there, I attended Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University. As a business major, it aligned with my studies. This was an international school that hosted students from all over the world. Some of my best friends till this day are from Botswana and Uzbekistan. My courses had an international focus that incorporated cultural nuances on marketing, consumer engagement, and econometrics. The true challenge came in when some of my professors did not speak English, and I was still in the process of learning Japanese.
Going to Japan had a monumental effect on my life. When I returned to Bennett, I choose International Business as a concentration. The experience motivated me to obtain my MBA and work towards candidacy for a dual Ph.D. /J.D. program. I would recommend that every student study abroad and talk with the Center for Global Studies to debunk myths and fears about the process. There are an array of options from country, focus and time length to choose from. As an alumna, I encourage you to take part in this opportunity because after college it is harder to find time and they are more expensive. Trust me this experience will set you apart!