Student leaves for Japan study

Andy Durham has left Northern Kentucky University. In fact, the senior English major left the country. He departed Sept. 29 for Gifu, Japan, where he will be studying in an academic exchange program for a year.

Durham will be attending Gifu University, which is located geographically in the center of Japan. Though he said he is excited about the trip, it won’t be the first time he has visited the country.

About a year and a half ago, Durham met an exchange student from Japan attending NKU. Through the exchange student, he met other students from Japan and last summer, Durham went to visit them for about two weeks.

“I have some idea of what to expect,” he said.

Durham said he has “always been interested in the Japanese culture” and “took classes at NKU and really enjoyed them.”

Since Durham has taken all of NKU’s Japanese course offerings and wanted to continue his studies, he decided that spending his senior year in Japan would be the best way to do learn more.

In Japan, Durham will be living in an international dorm located at the university. Since he commutes to NKU, living on campus will be a change.

“I think it will be kind of a shock,” he said. “I won’t have the kind of privacy I have here.”

Besides privacy, Durham said he’s going to miss NASCAR.

“I’m a big fan, so I’m disappointed I can’t watch races in Japan,” he said.

Besides NASCAR, Durham said he would miss his friends, his dog and his family. In particular, he said he would miss his mom’s cooking. When he traveled to Japan the first time, Durham said he tried all kinds of food that were placed before him.

“I tried octopus last time,” he said. “It looked like they just cut (the leg) off and put it on my plate. I was nervous at first, but I told myself that people have eaten this kind of food for hundreds of years and it hasn’t hurt them yet.”

Durham said he kept that mindset every time he tried a new type of food.

Trying new foods doesn’t scare Durham and neither does the language barrier.

This semester, Durham said he will be enrolled in basic Japanese courses to help improve his speech and comprehension. His second semester at Gifu University, he will be enrolled in regular courses with other Japanese students at the university.

“My Japanese friends (at NKU have) always helped me study,” he said.

Durham said he had a better understanding of the language just in the short time he visited last summer.

“I actually started to dream in Japanese,” Durham said.

Durham’s trip is not only inspired by his love of the Japanese language, culture, history and food, but also by his career goal of teaching English in another country.

Durham’s study abroad is through the Office of International Studies at NKU, and he estimated the cost at approximately $16,000 for tuition, plane tickets and board at the university. He said that scholarships and financial aid have helped offset the cost of the trip.

“It’s personal, but a career move too…I really enjoy working with international students (at the Writing Center),” he said. “It’s going to open up a lot of opportunities.”