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 Back to SummaryAusten Wianecki - Student Advisor Profile

photo of Austen Wianecki
Stanford in Kyoto,
MAJOR: Archaeology


INTERNSHIP: Archaeological Institute of Kashihara, Nara Prefecture

Upon receiving my acceptance email from the BOSP office for the 2010 Spring Quarter abroad in Japan, I felt two conflicting emotions, unbelievable happiness and unsettling anxiety. I had (and still have) a passion for the traditional arts of Japan, so the chance to live, study, and work in the cultural capitol of Japan was almost too good to be true. However, despite my growing excitement I still had doubts about my ability to adapt to such a drastically different culture. From the moment I arrived in Japan though, all of my fears were relieved. The city was beautiful, the people were nice, and I found myself easily acclimating to Japanese society. I could never have anticipated all of the wonderful people I would meet or the amazing experiences I would have.

My time in Japan started in Kyoto, studying at Doshisha University with my fellow Stanford students. It was a wonderful mix: taking classes in the morning, exploring the city in the afternoon, and spending time with my host family at night. Kyoto is the perfect combination of modern and historical Japan. The city is full of trendy restaurants, shopping areas, castles, shrines, and temples- sometimes all on the same block. It was the perfect location to study and live.

Living with a host family in Kyoto helped me to become more confident and comfortable in the city- I felt like a local, not a tourist. From the first day I met my family, they helped me navigate the train and bus systems, showed me where all the good shopping was, and helped me use the post office and bank. I was also integrated into the real day-to-day routines of my family members, which made me feel like a true member of their family. We would watch Korean dramas, made dinner, and go out shopping and sightseeing together. My host father even took me to his calligraphy class for 6 weeks. So, despite my initial self-doubts about communicating with them, we had a great relationship. There wasn’t anything we couldn’t laugh about and by the time I moved to Nara for the summer, it felt like I was leaving my American family all over again. But, of course, I came back to visit during the summer and I have plans to see them again.

Despite how sad I was to leave my host family and Kyoto, my summer internship was another unbelievably wonderful experience. When I first applied to the SCTI program, I felt unsure of myself being an Archaeology and Native American Studies major because the internships seemed so geared toward engineering and the sciences. However, even though I applied later than most students, I was accepted into the Archaeological Institute of Kashihara, Nara Prefecture as a summer intern.

Kashihara is a very small town, different from the urban environment of Kyoto. But it was a welcome change-Nara is home to some of the most exquisite archaeological sites in the entire country and I was eager to start working. I thought that having lived in Kyoto for the past three months and having had fieldwork experience in the past would have prepared me for life at the Institute, but I wasn’t expecting the unconditional kindness with which everyone at the institute showered me. I had multiple welcome and farewell parties, extraordinary opportunities to diversify my work experience, personal tours of the affiliated museum and local sightseeing spots, and made truly incredible life-long friends.

My experience in Japan, from beginning to end, was phenomenal. Looking back, I see how much time I wasted worrying about studying abroad. My time in Japan was nothing but fun, and I feel silly ever having doubted myself. This was one of the best experiences of my life and I will forever hold these memories dear. For all future SCTI students- you’ll only regret what you don’t do. Take some risks, have some fun, speak Japanese, and never look back!

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