Most people associate hitting the books and going to class when they think of receiving a good education. Two IEI students took their learning to the next level, however, and proved that learning extends far beyond the classroom.
When Yuki Nakamura came to the United States from Japan to study English, he knew that to receive the best experience possible, he would have to immerse himself fully into the language. His first and favorite choice was to embrace and rekindle one of his old hobbies from home—Judo.
Back in Japan, Yuki tried the form of martial arts, nine years ago and loved it. Years later, as he started classes at the IEI this semester, Yuki chose to use his hobby not just to have fun, but to learn English as well.
“I wanted a chance to talk to native speakers. In Judo club, I can talk to native speakers,” he said about accomplishing his goals for joining the class.
Yuki’s goals to learn outside of the classroom to improve English skills have been a positive experience for him so far. Every day in Judo class, he said he gets to practice listening and speaking through explaining different Judo skills to his fellow classmates and listening to what the instructors have to say.
However, though supplementing language skills has been good, the personal benefits have been better, he said.
“In Judo club, it is a good experience for me because I’ve met many people. The most fun experience was when I went to a home party of one of my Judo class members. I got to go and join the party with other students” Yuki said.
Yuki isn’t the only student benefitting from joining extracurricular activities. Making new friends and connections was a major reward for Eunsook Choi, too, when she tried dance lessons for the first time this semester.
Eunsook, a student from Korea, joined a dance class this semester after visiting a dance club her host mother was a part of. To learn a variety of dances, Eunsook gets experience in swing, tango, cha-cha, and ballroom dancing, to name a few.
Like Yuki, Eunsook said one of the most helpful parts is the English practice she gets from attending the lessons.
“There are women and men on either side, and we rotate partners every five minutes, so I have many chances to speak with native speakers,” she said.
This extra practice makes her more comfortable with communicating in English, and she said she feels as though it has been a helpful part of her time here in the United States.
“I can meet new native speakers and I have the opportunity to speak with them and get to know them,” Eunsook said of the connections she’s made so far this semester.
Being bold and stepping out of comfort zones, especially with language, can be difficult when coming to a country for the first time. Though intimidating at first, students like Yuki and Eunsook prove that getting the fullest experience abroad means pushing yourself, learning, and having fun both inside and outside the classroom.
Written by IEI Intern Maria Rubin De Celis