The University of Iowa

The Gaijin (Foreigner) Has Arrived

September 14th, 2015

Luke Bader is a senior majoring in international studies with a minor in Japanese and a certificate in writing at the University of Iowa. This semester, the Jesup, IA native will be studying abroad on the USAC Nagasaki Program in Japan. Read on for some advice from Luke on what to do when first arriving abroad.

By Luke Bader

Hey Everyone!

I’d like to start with a jikoshoukai (self-introduction):         

My name is Luke Bader. I’m a senior at the University of Iowa working towards a major in International Studies, a Writing certificate, and a Japanese minor. This semester (Fall 2015) I thought I’d team up with the study abroad department at the university to give you my experience while studying in Nagasaki, Japan. This will be my second time in Japan and I am so excited to be back! This time I am going through the ‘University Studies Abroad Consortium’ (USAC) and through Nagasaki University’s ‘Japan Studies in Nagasaki’ (JASIN) program.

First breakfast here in Japan. So simple but so delicious!

I took off from Cedar Rapids airport on September 12 and arrived last night (September 13). For anyone who’s wondering, I’m about 14 hours ahead of anyone in Iowa. After that, my course went from Dallas-Fort Worth to Narita in Tokyo, and finally to Fukuoka. To give you some idea of where I am I’ve included a map of Japan. Fukuoka and Nagasaki are on the southern island of Kyushu.

Here’s a quick tip for anyone who wants to study abroad. You may be thinking, “I can’t wait to get to where I’m going so I can talk to the locals.”

My advice: Don’t wait until you get there! While waiting for my plane in Dallas, I met a nice older gentleman who was visiting from Japan to see his younger brother’s family who lives in America. Then, on the shorter flight from Tokyo to Fukuoka I met an American who moved to Japan last October who was married to a local Japanese woman. I can’t tell you enough how great it was speaking with both of them. Aside from an interesting conversation, the American I met teaches English to middle and high school students here in Japan. He told me what it was like and gave me a lot of good advice for when I apply to do the same after I graduate!

To quote my dad, “For a lot of things in life, it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” So I encourage you, no matter where you go, talk to everyone you can. You never know who they are and at the very least you could get an interesting story out of the deal!

It's small, but it felt great to sleep anywhere besides an airplane seat!

So, after arriving at my hotel last night, I proceeded to immediately crash. But, after a good night of sleep and a wonderful breakfast I have recovered. I plan on spending the few days I am here by exploring Fukuoka by myself and with other students from the JASIN program.

I apologize this first post is a little short but rest assured that during my semester here I will let you know what I get up to in the classes I take and what I do with friends during our free time. I’ll be sure to get some cool photos and maybe make a few videos! In the meantime, I want to hear from YOU! What would you like to know about my visit or about Japan in general? I will try to check your comments and if I don’t know the answers I will try to find them.

Thanks for reading, everyone! まったね!(Later!)



A few other basic tips for first time study abroad students:

  • Have a plan for when you get out of the airport and then have a backup plan for when you forget that plan due to culture shock (It will happen).
  • The first part of any plan should include money. Preferably, you should make sure you have at a good amount of the local currency in case you can’t use your credit cards right away. I had about 20,000 yen on me when I arrived (about 200 US dollars).
  • Establish a line of communication: Have a good smartphone or tablet to get Wi-Fi and maybe consider getting a temporary phone through a local company.
  • Finally: It’s OKAY to freak out a little in your mind (it WILL happen). It’s all just part of adjusting to a new culture and after a month or two you’ll look back and laugh about how worried you were.