WASHINGTON, PA (Nov. 19, 2018)—There are countless benefits to studying abroad that we tried to fit into a neat little list here, but so much of what makes the program great comes from personal experience. Our friend Hailey Treloar ’20, an international business major from Pittsburgh, got a lot out of her time in Tokyo, Japan, during the Spring 2018 semester, and she shared some of that with us:
On learning about another culture—and in the process, herself
I’m overly polite. I apologize too often and say thank you even when it doesn’t make sense. When I got to Japan, I realized that I didn’t have to be. Tokyo is this huge city; when you’re walking down the street, people don’t really move out of your way because it’s overly crowded. If you step on somebody’s foot, nobody cares. They don’t apologize for every little thing. That made it easier to be myself and learn who I was in a public place, because nobody knew who I was, and I was probably never going to see any of those people again. It was an interesting self-exploration to be there and find out who I am when I’m not surrounded by people who know who I am and expect certain things from me.
On dealing with homesickness and developing independence
One of the things that I think I had trouble with at first—and that I think a lot of students are nervous about when they study abroad—is that I missed my friends and family terribly. About a month in, I saw something I thought my dad would like and I started to cry, because he was all the way on the other side of the world, and it really hurt a little bit. After I did that and I stopped and had my good cry, I realized, “I’m going home; I’m not here forever.” And then I thought, “I’m not here forever! There are so many things I want to do while I’m here!” And that’s when the independence kicks in. At first it’s going to feel like you need people, but then you’re going to realize what you really need is yourself. You need to love and support yourself first, and that comes a lot easier when it’s just you.
On ease and essentialness of studying abroad
I love traveling, and studying abroad was very important to me during my college search. When I came to W&J, I found the process of preparing to study abroad was so easy, and traveling is never going to be more accessible than this. All I had to do is fill out some paperwork and [Director of Study Abroad] Sara Kochuba took care of the rest. Getting my classes scheduled was done online, just like here at W&J. When I was there, the only worries I had were the same as those I have here. Did I study? Will I pass this test? People wait until they’re adults to travel, and that’s when you have to take care of flights on your own, wonder where you’re going to stay, and make arrangements to miss work. There is so much support here to make study abroad possible, and I was awarded scholarships from [W&J’s] International Programs Fund and the Study Abroad Travel Fund, which helped fund me.
Do you have the travel bug like Hailey? Find the international learning experience you’ve always dreamed of with personalized assistance from the Office of Study Abroad.
About Washington & Jefferson College
Washington & Jefferson College, located in Washington, Pa., is a selective liberal arts college founded in 1781. Committed to providing each of its students with the highest-quality undergraduate education available, W&J offers a traditional arts and sciences curriculum emphasizing interdisciplinary study and independent study work. For more information about W&J, visit www.washjeff.edu, or call 888-W-AND-JAY.