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2 posts categorized "Ernest Dominick "


Maintaining Academic success while studying abroad

The first word in "Studying Abroad" may be studying but if you ask my friends, I am most definitely the least scholastic of the bunch. Regardless of this fact I still wanted to do well while studying here in Tokyo. While these past few months have been tricky, I think I've discovered a few tips that have helped me tremendously.


The first thing I've learned is to be flexible. The Japanese higher education system is vastly different that the US. Many of my instructors have gone strictly by the lesson plan and rarely gone off course. I could hold a grudge and be really upset about this but that won't help my grade so I've learned to bend and mold accordingly in each class. My Japanese class for example, we have 3 different teachers and one of them is REALLY strict. The other two are pretty laid back and go at their own pace. So now I only bring my textbooks to class on Tuesdays & Fridays. This is an arrangement that has been approved by the other two teachers of course!

Secondly I've learned to be consistent. This has been really tricky because I want to get the most out of my experience here. But with good preparation and proactivity I've learned that I can make it work. If I know I have a busy week coming up, I'll save an extra hour or so to go study at the local library in my neighborhood. The hard part is sticking with this. Having friends from class study with me has been super helpful to keep me on track.


The third thing I've learned is to be optimistic! No matter how stressful things can get with tests and quizzes this too shall pass! My mom always has to remind me to look at the big picture rather than analyze everything on a microscopic level. This skill has been really helpful in Tokyo because surprisingly classes can get pretty stressful here in Tokyo! 


The last and most important thing that I've learned is BALANCE. Yes I am here to learn and get better at my Japanese. Yes I'm here to challenge myself academically in a new setting. BUT I am also here to soak in and experience as much of the Japanese culture as I can! If I stayed in my room and studied for 3+ hours every night then that wouldn't leave me with very much time t explore! And inversely, if I went out every night unit last train and never studied I would definitely flunk. Life is all about balance! Studying a little each day has kept me from having to cram last minute. And most days I try to finish all my homework and studying before my friends decide where we want to go for the night. 


All in all I would say mastering flexibility, consistency, optimism, and balance have all carried me through this experience. It has not been the easiest thing and I definitely try at it each and everyday.

Gorgeous greenery, the Ghibli museum & great conversation: Mitaka, Tokyo

Today I went to the “hidden gem” that is Mitaka, Tokyo and I had a great time! I’m continually surprised at how much pleasure I get from trading in the one of a kind hustle and bustle of Tokyo for the quiet subtlety that is the rest of Japan.

Upon my arrival in Mitaka I immediately felt like a pressure had been lifted from my chest. It was like my brain had just taken a hug sigh. The town was so quaint and peaceful.

 After meeting up with friends at the station we walked to the Studio Ghibli Museum. I was EXTREMELY excited to go into the museum because Studio Ghibli is a big reason why I became interested in Japan. Kiki’s Delivery Service was the first Japanese media I saw as a child and I was instantly mesmerized by the artistry, the plot, and depth of the characters. It was amazing and unlike anything I had ever seen before. After watching that movie I then went on to watch shows like Sailor Moon and Pokémon but Kiki’s Delivery Service would forever hold a place in my heart. Walking around the museum really felt like an outer body experience and I had to hold back tears of happiness at some points (I didn’t want to look like a dweeb in front of my friends!). Shout out to CIEE for making things come full circle for me! I did a short vlog on my youtube channel about the studio Ghibli museum, check it out here:



Sadly no pictures were allowed so all I have is a few shots of the outside of the museum. Originally I was going to do a blog post solely on the Studio Ghibli museum so I interviewed two of the workers inside. I asked them what their favorite studio Ghibli movies were and why. And I asked them why they thought Studio Ghibli was so popular in Japan. They both said Totoro was their favorite movie. One said it was her favorite because it was released on her birthday and the other said it was her favorite because it had a great story.  They both agreed on the last answer and said they think Studio Ghibli is so popular is because it isn’t just targeted at children, and the messages within it’s films reach the hearts of all generations.


After the museum a few friends and I sat on a bench and reflected on our experiences thus far. We talked about what dream/goals had come into fruition, which ones hadn’t and what we needed to do to make them happen. I think it’s really refreshing to occasionally check in with your friends and see what progress you’ve made. After our chat we went to Inokashira Park.



This park was amazing! There were families, performances, cute pets, beautiful temples, and even really cute swan boats! I’m not sure if we happened to stumble upon the park during some type of festival or maybe it was just another Saturday. But either way it looked like something out of a movie. We just walked along the lake until we reached the other station and all said our goodbyes from there. All in  all it was an excellent way to spend my Saturday.