Lea Roberts, San Francisco State University (USA)

Public Relations Office        September 1, 2017

Lea Roberts, San Francisco State University (USA)

Choosing KGU

Ms. Roberts on campus

What made you decide to study here at KGU?

One of the most important things for me was finding a school that could provide me with the accommodations I need as a student with disabilities. Back in America, I had a lot of things provided to help me thrive academically. It was really hard to find a program where I could still achieve without that help, because in Japan there’s not a lot of talk about people with disabilities, especially learning disabilities. Each school is very different. There were only two programs that were willing to work with me, and one of them was KGU. I chose KGU because they sounded the most intrigued and were very quick to respond to questions I had. They sounded like they would be very involved.

Did you know anything about the Kansai area beforehand?

I was in the Japanese Student Association at SFSU. The exchange students would come to us and we’d help them out with getting used to going to school in San Francisco, so I met a few students who were from the Kansai area. I wanted to come here because I didn’t really know anything about it. I spent most of my time in Tokyo when I came to Japan before. I had no idea what Osaka or Kobe were like, so I wanted to experience a different type of Japan.

At Todaiji with her host family and another exchange student

At Todaiji with her host family and another exchange student

What do you think about the area?

I really like it. If I had to describe it in one word, I’d say “warm.” Not just the weather, but the people. Of course, I stand out very much as an exchange student. I think people are much more open to talking to me, especially when I speak Japanese, so they don’t have to worry about speaking in English. In comparison, Tokyo is a bit colder and more about hustle and bustle, so I like it here a lot better.

Are you staying with a host family?

Yes, I’ve been with one family the whole year.

At her host father's house

At her host father's house

How has that experience been?

It’s great. I’m so glad I went with the host family option. I really wanted to have a kind of landline with things I didn’t understand at school, or things that I needed help with. The family I was paired with is just amazing. I could have never have asked for a better connection. If I need help understanding something or just had a really bad day, I can go home and it feels like I’m part of their family. I have yet to feel homesick.

On KGU Student Life

A duck swimming through sakura petals in Shingetsu Pond

A duck swimming through sakura petals in Shingetsu Pond

How are your language classes?

Honestly, I think they are much more enjoyable and easier to understand compared to the classes I’ve taken in America. Teachers are so willing to explain something again if I don’t understand it. They’re very involved, and so are the CIEC people. Every time I stop by, they ask me “How are the classes going? Is everything OK?” It makes me feel very safe. If something were to go wrong, I don’t have to figure it out by myself. I can ask them for help.

In terms of concrete support, what have they done specifically to help make you feel as welcome as possible?

One thing is testing. I need to be able to take my tests in a different class and have more time. At first we tried to do the test inside the class and I’d just come earlier, but it wasn’t working out for me because it was too distracting, so I went back to CIEC and asked if we could do something else. Within a couple days, they found rooms where I could go for testing time. They were very willing to work with me, which I really appreciated.

What’s your daily schedule like?

My busiest day is Wednesday, where I have four classes in a row, so I wake up at about 6:30 and leave about 7:30. I’m usually one of the first students in. I go straight home after all my classes are done, because those days are just so exhausting. If I don’t have too much homework, I’ll help my host mom out with dinner and cleaning. On Thursday, I only have one class, which is a little annoying, but I can understand why it’s important to study Japanese every day.

Are you taking any culture classes?

I’m taking two classes from the Modern Japan track. One is Ethnics in Japan and the other one is Comparative Cultures. They’re both taught in English, and they’re very interesting. The Ethnics class has lots of debates involving cross-cultural morality.

Do you have any favorite spots around campus? Where do you usually hang out?

I really am so surprised by how beautiful this campus really is. My home university is kind of small, so it’s nice to have a campus where there’s a pond and you can go look at the baby ducks. I’ll usually go by the pond and walk around. Sometimes I go to the Global Lounge. I would say all the greenery is very nice, especially during sakura season.

Future Aspirations and Advice for Prospective Students

If you could give advice to someone who was thinking about studying at KGU, what would you tell them?

I think one of the most important things is to know your email contacts at your university, for the undergraduate administration or your department. I had a problem when picking out classes, because some of them were different from what SFSU wanted. I needed to fulfill my credit requirements and still get credit for the classes I took here, and it took three weeks of back-and-forth to figure out what classes I could take. I would also suggest bringing an unlocked phone. It’s definitely more useful than what you can rent out.

How will you apply the lessons and Japanese skills you’ve learned here towards your future goals?

When I go back, I will be working with the study abroad program and the student disability department, to encourage people to go abroad. This is off in the distance, but one of the career goals I’ve been looking into is being a cultural exchange ambassador, so I would love to get a master’s degree in communications and look into possibly pursuing that.


Let’s close with one last question. What’s your favorite Japanese phrase or expression?

I don’t know if it’s appropriate (laughs), but it’s definitely “mendokusai” (what a pain). It’s the perfect thing to say when you have to go do something. That’s probably my favorite.