Derek Ding

Middlebury College

They say ICU is far away from the downtown area of Tokyo, but it only took me 25 minutes to go to Shinjuku and another 15 minutes to go to Ginza, the two best-known central districts. Not only is ICU easily accessible to most parts of Tokyo, but its suburban location also grants its students the privilege to study extensively and passionately, to immerse in the picturesque surroundings composed of parks, rivers and an avenue fringed with cherry-blossom trees, and to form deep bonds with many wonderful people. I have indeed enjoyed my time there. 

Middlebury School in Japan facilitated my transition and maximized my ability to take advantage of my life in Japan. As a group, we went to Kyoto and Tottori to learn about different aspects of Japanese culture. The knowledge I gained from working on a farmland and brainstorming with locals to invent projects that can stimulate economic growth far exceeds what I could learn from solely perusing secondary sources. 

One of the best experiences that I had was interning at a floral shop. My mentor, a talented senior florist, was so generous that she invited me to attend the Paris Fashion Week as her assistant. Never had I imagined myself working with world-class professionals in a language that I had only studied for two years. It was definitely a challenge, but more importantly an invaluable opportunity. 

Studying abroad is always a challenge. I needed to step out of my comfort zone by meeting new people and exploring a foreign land. But in my case at least, there is no regret but a plan to return.