Back to SummarySaroya Whatley - Student Advisor Profile
INTERNSHIP: JACSES (Japan Center for a Sustainable Environment and Society)
Prior to going to Japan through Stanford’s BOSP program, I had been to Japan only once for a school trip for a week during my senior of high school. During that one week, I fell in love completely with Kyoto and the various other cities we visited, and was so determined to visit Japan in the near future. Thus, when I was applying to colleges, I always researched study abroad opportunities, and discovered that Stanford had the Kyoto program. Upon entering as a freshman, I knew that I wanted to apply to the Kyoto program and study in Japan either in my sophomore or junior years.
Spending five months in Japan has definitely been one of the highlights of my Stanford experience. I never would have thought I would be lucky enough to both study and work in a foreign country prior to graduation. Additionally, the five-month period really allowed me to truly inundate myself in Japanese culture. During spring quarter, I lived with a host family and spent my time studying and made friends with many Japanese students at Doshisha University. In the summertime, I worked at a non-profit agency in Tokyo, figured out how to live on my own, befriended my coworkers, and received valuable insights into the Japanese working environment.
While at Doshisha, I was able to take a class called “Religion and Culture in Japan” with Professor Ludvik. Honestly, I was just amazed with the amount of knowledge she had in terms of the various Japanese religions and how integrated with Japanese culture and history they were. The field trips she took us on were numerous and all supremely fascinating. One of my favorite places she took us to was a Zen Temple in Tenryuji; there, a Zen Monk of the Temple lectured about the practices of the Zen Temple and lead a meditation exercise. Additionally, he took us on a tour of the grounds, which were unbelievably gorgeous. Because I found the class so interesting, I wanted to have greater opportunity of research and exposure, and so became the class assistant to Professor Ludvik, who kindly provided me extra reading materials and such to keep me occupied in the evening times when I was not out with my friends.
My original plans, before arriving in Japan, were restricted to studying in Kyoto for spring quarter and returning back to the States in the summer. However, the staff at the Stanford Center was so generous and kind that, upon hearing my desire to stay in Japan for the summer (if possible) helped me find an internship and apartment. To say that I was ecstatic would be an understatement; I am so grateful to the staff at the Stanford center for being so accommodating and helpful, otherwise I would not have had the opportunity to stay in Tokyo for another two and a half months.
My summer in Tokyo was everything I could have hoped for. My Japanese significantly improved in my workplace, where I did translation work for the non profit JACSES (Japan Center for a Sustainable Environment and Society), I learned how to live on my own (and tried to cook Japanese food!), and was able to explore the Kanto area. My favorite trip I took was to the town of Kamakura, an hour away on train from Tokyo. I spent the entire day exploring a few of the temples of the city, seeing the giant Buddha, and taking a walk on the beach. I took 200 pictures alone in Kamakura!
Ultimately, I could not have asked for a more insightful and exciting experience abroad, especially in Japan. Because of this experience, I have decided to continue studying Japanese and Stanford (despite the fact that I have already fulfilled my language requirement), and hope to be able to travel back to Japan (and perhaps work there) in the near future.