WTAMU hosts Japanese exchange program

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to take classes in another country? Many aspects could affect your daily life. You may have trouble finding your way around or asking for directions due to a language barrier. You’ll try delicious and maybe not so delicious foreign dishes. One thing is certain however, there would be new friends to make and plenty of adventures to be had while abroad. 

West Texas A&M University is hosting Mizuki Watanabe, a digital media communication major and Yuri Naramoto, an economics major this semester. Both are foreign exchange students from Toyo University in Tokyo, Japan. 

“Studying in another country makes your more confident in yourself,” Watanabe said. 

Both Watanabe and Naramoto decided to participate in the student exchange program because they wanted to improve their English language skills. 

“I really wanted to speak English,” said Naramoto. “My dad is from Britain, I need to speak English, but I couldn’t speak well when I was little. So, I really try to study English.”

Watanabe and Naramoto have to contend with the language barrier every day on campus but aren’t discouraged by these difficulties.

“People speak very slow and sometimes very fast, but either way, I couldn’t understand,” said Naramoto. “I try to talk to many people because I think listening will improve my English.” Watanabe has even changed her iPhone language settings to English to better practice her English.

Watanabe and Naramoto strongly urge students to participate in study abroad programs or student exchange programs.

“I do this because it is very difficult to leave another country,” Naramoto said. “But I think if you go to another country, you can understand what is different from your country in another culture, and you can learn more about the world.”

The WTAMU Office of Study Abroad has student exchange programs in Tokyo, Japan, and Galway, Ireland, available to students who qualify. The student exchange programs will take place during the Spring 2020 semester. But what is the student exchange program?

The student exchange program, or reciprocal exchange program, is an agreement between WTAMU and foreign college institutions to send the same number of students to the host institutions and WTAMU to take classes abroad for a semester or a year. In simpler terms, WTAMU and partnered foreign college institutions will send the same amount of students to each other throughout the school year.

The student exchange programs are typically offered for at least five years and may be discontinued if both institutions don’t have enough student participation in the program. While WTAMU only has an agreement with two college institutions, the Office of Study Abroad is working on achieving a reciprocal exchange program in France and in Poland.

“We’re trying to increase the portfolio of exchange opportunities, because one of the things about exchange programs is that students will actually pay tuition at their home institution,’ Director of Office of Study Abroad Carolina Galloway said. “If you go to a foreign institution, usually they charge you tuition as an international student, and that tends to be more expensive.”

If you are interested in participating in anyone one of the Spring 2020 international student exchange programs in Japan or Ireland, you can visit the Office of Study Abroad in the Student Success Center on Campus. If you can’t make a visit in person, you can also contact the Office of Study Abroad by email at [email protected] or by calling 806-651-5309. 

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