Santa Clara University

Hallie Bodey '12

International Ambassador

 

Why do you want to serve as an International Ambassador at Santa Clara University?
 
I had a really great experience abroad. There are so many things that I want to share with the students that are going abroad or thinking about going abroad, specifically, of course, to Japan.  I am also hoping in the long run to give back to the students that helped me so much in Japan. When I came here, I could hardly speak a word of Japanese, but everyone did their absolute best to help me and I made four very good Japanese friends from the experience. I am hoping that I can be a partner to a Japanese student and make their experience just as memorable and wonderful as mine has been.
 
What were the deciding factors in choosing your study abroad program-location?
 
I had been to Japan before and liked it, but that was not why I picked to study there.    I picked to study there because I wanted something completely different than what I was studying. I'm a classical studies major, and although, I love it, I wanted this quarter to be completely unrelated to classics. I went about as far from classical studies as I could - new culture, completely new language.  Everything to make this as memorable as possible and as unlike Santa Clara as possible. I really wanted to delve into the culture. The Sacred Heart program in Tokyo was perfect for this. From taking off our shoes at the front of the dorm to learning calligraphy to just day-to-day interactions were amazing and exciting! I'm glad that I decided to go abroad for that reason.
 
Describe a defining moment in your abroad experiences and how that experience(s) has affected you personally, intellectually, vocational, spiritually, or academically.
 
I think that doing calligraphy has changed me completely. I have taken a calligraphy class here every week once a week for an hour and a half. In that time, we sit down, set up, dip the brush in the ink, and learn how to create something that ends basically being a piece of art.  At first I really did not want to take this class. I enjoy a good challenge, but at the start of this semester abroad, I literally knew no Japanese and this was a class taught entirely in Japanese. The first day I walked out of there asked a girl who spoke english, "Are we supposed to practice the characters on the board?" thinking that was our homework.  She was polite and tried not laugh, and said, "No, those are what have to buy, Hallie. That's what you'll need for this class."  Yeah, I thought, there's no way that I can take this class. The international department really encouraged me to stay in it. They would not accept me dropping out of it unless I stayed another two weeks. So I went, I had the teacher fuss over my complete inability to organize my desk the right way. And for a good like 2 minutes put her hand over mine and force me to do certain strokes.  I stuck with the class. After how forceful the international department had been about it, I didn't feel like I could drop out, and I'm really glad that I didn't.  It has become something that I do completely differently. I am so happy that I stuck with this class.  Even outside of class I set everything up with patience, if I notice that my strokes aren't so great, I put the brush down force myself to relax and go a little slower and do the job right. I realize that this isn't a defining moment exactly, but this entire change in attitude towards calligraphy has sort of become something I apply in other aspects of my life as well. I have really been personally affected by this.  I am absolutely determined during my return to Santa Clara to share this experience and joy of calligraphy with other students. I am not sure if enough students will be interested in it to start a club, but I'd like to share that same feeling of relaxation and learning to slow down and most of all, not simply dropping something because it seems impossible.
 
What advises, recommendations would you give to prospective study abroad students? In retrospect, how would you prepare differently to maximize the study abroad experience?

There are so many recommendations that I have for them! Everything from remember towels to staying an extra week or arriving a week early to have more travel time to buying the right train tickets before getting to your host country (you need to buy a special train pass in Japan before you enter the country if you want to travel for a lot cheaper).  But ultimately, I'd say try something 100% different while you are there. This isn't always easy, and there are several ways to do this (some much more extreme than others), but do something 100% against what you would normally do. If you're shy make an effort to set aside an hour and try to really communicate with someone every day or night. If you're given a chance to try a "delicacy" (specifically something your brain says "ew" to) give it a try. I've tried so many foods that I would never have eaten at home. Specifically, pickled plum, bean paste, all types of fish. Some of them were pleasant surprises such as picked plum and bean paste, while others I wouldn't eat again. But, that's not really the point.  The point is doing something that's outside of your comfort zone. I may never have another chance to eat sushi made in front of me and have a friend hand me a sea urchin roll, so I'm really glad that I took that chance while in Japan.