Scholarship Helps Student Make the Most of Japan Study Abroad Experience
September 21, 2017
Webster University senior Robert Koegel used what he’s learned at the home campus to have an excellent study abroad experience. Koegel is majoring in International Studies and minoring in Japanese. He hopes these degrees will help him get a job with an American based multinational company that has offices in Japan so that he can travel between the two. Koegel is originally from Colorado and came to Webster for Cross Country and Track.
After receiving the World Traveler Scholarship along with several other scholarships, he studied abroad his junior year, spending almost 12 months in Tokyo, Japan. Koegel took mostly language and Anthropology courses that he transferred back to Webster. Although he took Japanese courses at Webster before going abroad, he admits the language was still challenging.
“I felt like I didn’t know any by the time I got there… it’s a very tough language to learn.” He chose Japan because his family is Japanese and he had never had the opportunity to visit his roots. However, during his study abroad in Japan, he was able to track down his late grandmother’s childhood home.
While Koegel was abroad, he worked a total of three jobs, which were English oriented. He taught ‘Introduction to English’ at his dorm, helped at an ESL ‘café where students could practice their English slang and worked at Tokyo Roki where he helped individuals who only understood high school level English. Koegel also did some traveling and explained one of his fun experiences.
“We traveled to Kanazawa and we went to a BBQ…the people at the BBQ were very interesting, they had nontraditional jobs. There was a guy who engraved china plates, a person who owned a pizza shop and another guy who studied Chinese medicine. It was in an old Meiji era house and they were all listening to American Hip Hop and all the food was locally grown… it was a side of Japan I hadn’t seen.”
His Japanese colleagues threw him a going away party before he returned to the U.S. He is now excited to graduate and start his career.
Koegel's advice to those who is unsure of studying abroad or studying a language is to start early, make a plan, and setup a meeting with their advisor. He thinks Webster offers opportunities of a lifetime and that everyone should take advantage of them.