Be open to the possibilities

Austin Hines in Nagasaki

This week's Global Citizen Spotlight is Austin Hines!

Name: Austin Hines
Major: Communication Studies
Minors: Asian Studies & International Studies
Class Year: Junior 
Hometown: Leitchfield, KY

1. Describe your Education Abroad program: 
I decided to take part in the USAC (University Study Abroad Consortium) program and my education was in Nagasaki, Japan. I took courses in both speaking and reading the language as well as learning about the vast works of literature, details of Japan’s rich history, and even had the opportunity to study some of their martial arts styles and fighting in Aikido and Kendo.

2. Is this a good program for other students in your major? 
This program is a good fit for anyone wanting to broaden their horizons and see a part of the world that many others have not, nor may they ever get the chance to do so. With Communication Studies as my major I have nearly endless opportunities, so having experience in other parts of the world can only broaden my horizons.

3. Was this your first time abroad? 
Japan was my first time traveling as part of a school program, but not my first time leaving the country.

4. How do you feel that you benefitted from studying abroad?
Studying the language and history really helped me to understand the culture in a different light. There are many things I did not understand until I began learning the history and it was really interesting being able to make those connections and understand it outside of the classroom. I also learned some very valuable information on how to obtain a position teaching English in Japan once I graduate. This was the main reason I chose the USAC program. This program offers a course that is specifically tailored for individuals interested in teaching English abroad. The class had a limited number of seats available, but all of us who made the cut found it to be very beneficial to our future endeavors.

5. How do you think this experience will impact your future plans? 
While in Japan I had the opportunity to help children at a private English school called PlayDay English. The owner of the school told me to tell him when I graduate and he will see about getting me a teaching position if I am interested. Traveling and making connections really pays off. It is a great feeling knowing that I have a possible job opportunity the day that I graduate, doing exactly what I want to do.

6. How did the experience differ from your expectations? 
I really tried to go with no expectations. It’s necessary to have a plan but being able to put assumptions out of one’s mind can really be beneficial. One thing that I was not prepared was the rainy season. It doesn’t really matter how many layers of clothing are worn or how big the umbrella. Be prepared to walk around soaked from head to toe on certain days.

7. What other countries have you traveled to? 
In 2013 I had the privilege of living in Venezuela for almost half of a year. While there I taught music in a small church and was able to learn a few things about the culture as well as individual people that lived there and their everyday life.

8. Favorite thing about studying abroad? 
My favorite thing about studying abroad was all the wonderful people I met and the connections that were made. I still try to keep in touch with everyone that I met.

9. Suggestions for future students? 
Anywhere you go, be sure to get out and meet people. Don’t take any expectations, just be open to the possibilities, and always respect the customs of the place you are in.

10. Anything you'd like to add?
Go abroad. If there is something you want to find out about, go there, see it, experience it, let it change you. I know that through my travels I have learned that the world is much bigger, and more interesting than I could have imagined.

Published on May 15, 2017

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