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Japan Study Tour: A social work adventure

Japan Study Tour: A social work adventure


”My favourite moment during this time, was sitting with an elderly gentleman who spoke Japanese to me the whole time. I didn’t understand him.” Emily McFarland shares the adventures of her study tour to Japan.

Written by Emily McFarland

Hey fellow readers,

I am thrilled to share my extraordinary journey that entailed three and a half weeks in Japan as a social work student.

The combination of social work, cultural immersion, and a dash of personal exploration, joint with being brought together with other social work students outside of the classroom environment, made for an unforgettable trip.

Join me on this virtual journey as I reflect on the whirlwind of experiences that made this trip more than just a study abroad program.

Days 0 – 6: Navigating Japan

Before the commencement of the program, I decided to take time in Osaka and Kyoto to explore and learn to navigate Japan on my own.

Armed with a Suica card and limitless curiosity, I discovered
castles, temples, museums, fish markets, beer markets, game arcades, boat rides, roketsu dyeing, and hiking.

I threw myself in the deep end and despite my feet aching and getting lost more times than I could count, it was for sure the highlight of my trip.

My favourite moment during this time, was sitting with an elderly gentleman who spoke Japanese to me the whole time. I didn’t understand him, he didn’t understand me, but he taught me how to say ‘good’ in Japanese, pulled my chair out for me and laughed at his own stories.

I discovered that the real magic of travelling, happens when you let
spontaneity guide your travels.

Days 7 – 22: Social Work and Human Services in Japan

The sixteen-day multidisciplinary program in the Chita District of Japan entailed several interactions with the local university staff and students of Nihon Fukushi University (NFU).

Throughout the duration of the program, our group of ten students were busy with disaster relief rescue and prevention work, elementary schools, historical resources, community work, feeding the homeless, visiting non for profits, taking a deep dive into social work within Japan, mental health, society
overviews, and the list goes on.

As a social work student, the opportunity to immerse myself in a different culture whilst applying my skills was both challenging and rewarding.

The trip not only broadened my understanding of diverse social issues but also reinforced the importance of empathy as the driving force behind social work.

Through this trip, I have been lucky to have made lifelong
friends and met a number of wonderful people through their love for learning, social work, and travel.

The below four images were kindly provided by our CIS Onsite Coordinator: Setsuko Hobart

Days 23 -26: Extending the trip

I had the privilege of extending my trip again outside of the program for three days in Tokyo before embarking home.

Tokyo provided a whole other experience, neon lights, bustling streets, a concrete jungle.

Whilst it was certainly busy, it provided me time to catch up on my university work and wrap up the world wind of a trip.

My last day was spent exploring Harry Potter World before a late flight
out with what felt like too much luggage to cart back home.

Since arriving back home, I can’t help but reflect upon the memories of my Japan trip.

The professional growth, the cultural exchange, and the personal discoveries merged into the unique experience of getting to travel overseas for the first time has made for more than a typical study abroad trip.

The trip was not just about studying social work – it was a reminder that the most profound lessons often come when you step beyond the expected and embrace the unknown of travelling.

Arigatou gozaimasu, Japan, for an unforgettable experience in the pursuit of social well-being.

Thinking about going on a trip of a lifetime?

For more information click here.

Want to hear about another Study Tour?

This is an SSAF funded initiative
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