Summer study abroad trip to Tokyo

Poster perfect: Park displayed the poster he made with pictures of some of the places students could see on the Tokyo trip. Park has been to Japan before and is looking forward to bringing a group of students.

Kodee Christensen

Many students will attest that embarking on a study abroad trip is one of the best decisions you can make for yourself while in college. There are abundant opportunities and options for those interested. One in particular is a faculty led short term-trip to Japan this summer.

“The best way to describe Tokyo is a collection of many neighborhoods,” said Sangyoub Park, who organized the trip and is the faculty lead. “Each has a different flavor, so we will visit different ones. I also want to take students outside of Tokyo. Like a day trip to Yokohama, which is very close to the ocean, so students can see the ocean. I want to take them to the Mountain Takao too.”

Park has spent the past six months planning details for the trip and has high hopes for the many excursions on which students will be able to go. The group will be staying at Washburn’s sister school, Chiba University of Commerce.

“We study in the morning, and in the afternoon we do hands on activities,” said Park. “Then we go on field trips. For example, before Tokyo was Tokyo, it used to be called Edo, and they changed the name. So we study a little of Tokyo history from the Edo period to today. So we will talk about that in the morning, then visit the Edo-Tokyo museum in the afternoon.”

There are many reasons to go on a study abroad trip. Tina Williams, study abroad program coordinator, suggests one incentive is to build more personal and professional skills.

“With an increasingly globalized world, studying abroad is now more important than ever,” said Williams. “Study abroad allows students to see the world and travel to new places they would otherwise not have visited. By immersing in another culture, students can develop valuable life skills needed for personal growth, including independence and adaptability. These skills can provide added value to students’ personal and professional lives.”

Several students have already signed up for the Japan trip. Their motives range from wanting a fun experience, to intrigue in the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.

“I decided to go on a study abroad to Japan as I felt like it was the right time in my life to really get out and see the world,” said junior history major, Conner Ertel. “Though I’ve traveled from America, it has only been to nearby places. I really wanted to go somewhere that was totally different and unique, and I would be able to learn about and understand a culture very different from my own.”

Junior communication and sociology major, D’Mya Valdivia, also shared her aim for going.

“I chose to go to Japan because we will be there around the time of the Olympics, and I thought that was like a once in a lifetime chance and really wanted to have that experience,” said Valdivia. “For my first time being out of the country, it brought me comfort to be going with a group for the first time and going with people I am familiar with.”

While the students will be there a couple of months before the Olympics, Park notes that they will be able to reap some of the benefits of the event’s impact on the city.

“We get a lot of benefits because of the summer Olympics,” said Park. “Especially in Tokyo, they’re using the term global city standard. So they have to make Tokyo more welcoming for foreigners. There will be more English signs. Also, Japan is a cash society, but they’re trying to change it to more credit cards, so we get a lot of benefits.”

As Tokyo becomes a global city, the Washburn students attending the trip will become global citizens.

“A global citizen is someone who is aware of and understands the wider world,” said Williams. “Study abroad fosters global citizenship. It promotes global learning and understanding among groups from diverse backgrounds and perspectives. Oftentimes, our cultural background has a huge impact on how we react to different situations. By studying abroad, students will meet people with different upbringings, experiences, values, and cultural backgrounds helping them widen their horizon and broaden their mind.”

Park recommends students take his class on Japan and East Asia either before or after the trip to obtain an even deeper understanding of the culture.

For those interested in the trip, there are several financial aid options. Students can apply to receive WTE funding by engaging in a Washburn Transformational Experience for the trip. Additionally, there are scholarship opportunities including an international education grant. 

For more information, get in touch with Park or visit Washburn’s study abroad for the trip.

Edited by Adam White, Hannah Alleyne, Diana Martinez-Ponce, Erica Faulkinbury