Studying Abroad in Japan: A childhood dream comes true

By Rena Yakoue

UC Santa Barbara offers 411 study abroad opportunities in 44 countries under its popular Education Abroad Program. One of those programs enabled Nicholas Wagenseller to study abroad in Japan, which he had always longed for. Finally, that dream came true.

 Fourth year UCSB student Nicholas Wagenseller poses for the camera in Sierra Madre Village.

Fourth year UCSB student Nicholas Wagenseller poses for the camera in Sierra Madre Village.

Wagenseller is currently a senior with a double major in Japanese history and Japanese language. In 2017, from July to December, he studied abroad at Tsuru University in Yamanashi prefecture, Japan as an international exchange student.

“Middle school students looked surprised when they saw I spoke in Japanese, and they asked me to take a picture together,” he said.

Wagenseller recently spoke to HFA about his study abroad experience.  

Q. You focus on Japanese history and language now. What made you interested in Japan in the first place?

A. I love Japanese anime, manga and video games generally. I developed those interests when I was a second grade student at the primary school. My best friend’s family hosted a Japanese student. She told us all about Japan and its culture. Since then, I always wanted to visit.

But, I started taking Japanese language classes three years ago, when I was in community college, just because I didn’t want to take math class. Then I found I like studying it. Now that I’ve studied in Japan, my childhood dream has come true.

Q. You studied in Japan last year. How much earlier did you decide to study abroad?

A. I decided during fall quarter 2016, which was my first quarter at UCSB. I just really wanted to improve my Japanese and experience actual life there, although I’d never been outside of America, nor even had a passport.

Q. Is it easy for UCSB students to study abroad?

A. UCSB has so many partnership universities all over the world. It’s crazy how good the study abroad program is. Why don’t you take that opportunity?

Q. What advice would you give to UCSB students considering studying abroad?

A. Studying abroad is something that not a lot of people think about, but it’s right there. There are so many chances to do it at UCSB. You can travel, see the world, expand your mind, and see different culture. Just do it!

Rena Yokoue is a Junior international student majoring in Communication. 

 Nicholas Wagenseller visited Mt. Fuji, Japan, in December of 2017.

Nicholas Wagenseller visited Mt. Fuji, Japan, in December of 2017.