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EF Stories: Kento from Japan at EF Seattle

"I took the challenge of studying abroad at EF Seattle at the age of 18."
EF Stories: Kento from Japan at EF Seattle

Kento Toda was born in Aichi Prefecture, Japan and studied at EF Seattle when he was 18 years old. He devoted 14 years of his life to soccer, from kindergarten to his third year of high school. He took on the challenge of studying abroad for long term.

1.Reason for studying abroad

I originally thought that I would like to study abroad at some point, even if it's only for a short period of time. I really wanted to take advantage of my university's study abroad program, but I wasn't able to get into the university I targeted. Luckily my parents gave me the chance to study abroad. I had no intention of becoming a Ronin (Japanese term: someone who doesn't study or work after graduation), so I decided to take advantage of this opportunity and try my best again.

2.Memories and stories from studying abroad

Everything was so memorable for me. The first day I arrived, I was so worried about where I would get off the bus that I kept looking out of the window like a little kid. I stayed at a hotel in Seattle with all the Japanese students and went sightseeing in the city. I also met people from various countries. There had been many occasions where I became friends of others with different backgrounds by participating soccer matches, in a mere two months study. And I continue to make even more good memories. I would like to share them with you through my blog.

3. Around EF Seattle school

I'd say it's actually EF Olympia (lol). It takes about 2 hours to get to Seattle city center by bus, but it only costs 300 yen so it's not a problem at all. The water was really delicious, and I thought the prices were probably one of the cheapest in America. If you choose a homestay, you will probably live in the city of Olympia. Olympia is relatively peaceful and safe. There is also a large shopping center nearby, so shopping for daily necessities is not a problem.

For those considering studying abroad. EF is located within the university, so the facilities are really well-equipped. You can use the library until 10 o'clock, and you can use the gym, dance studio, grass soccer field, indoor soccer field, tennis courts, etc. for free at any time. And if you want to study English, try EF Seattle. This is probably where the most people come to study English. It's because there are many students who aim to attend university after graduating from EF, and there are also many students who seek a change here because their majors do not suit them. So it is a place where you really can focus on improving your English skills. For me, every city in America is attractive. I decided to come here because I wanted to get a good score on TOEFL. Also, there are many people who use EF Seattle as a stepping stone, - they improve their English skills and then move on to the place / university they originally wanted to go. EF Seattle has a good environment for learning. Of course, it's not just about studying! There are lots of activities like partying on the weekends and playing soccer on weekdays as well!

4. English proficiency change

・A2-2 at departure and B2-1 after 2-month study (the time when this interview happened)

5. EF academic courses

The course is more for those who have studied English from high school, and would like to review what they have learned about grammar. Of course, everything is explained in English, so it can be difficult to understand at times. You'll feel your improvement when starting to understand more and more gradually. In class, we often had discuss in groups, so I was able to feel that my conversation skills had improved significantly even in just one month. We also studied pronunciation, slang, and the teacher try to explain some context from a native's point of view. In that case you would have a native mindset. EF Seattle is a language school, so if you are planning to attend a university or have a qualification exam, the teachers at EF Seattle can be very helpful. They helped me with related issues and enlightened me about anything that I didn't understand.

6. Spending the weekend

During my first weekend here, I went to downtown Seattle. I went to a baseball game, and I also went to a large aviation museum that housed Boeing. I also watched movies at home, studied on my own in the school library, and went out to eat with the students from the dormitory in the evenings.

7. About accommodation

I was staying with a host family. The family had only one mother. Her grandchildren and their families often came to the house and we ate together. I had a Vietnamese roommate.

On weekdays, I did homework, watched TV, and studied English in the living room. I didn't have a desk in my room, so I usually stayed in the living room. My mother went to bed after 10pm, so I watched movies and spent some quiet time after that.

8. About future dreams or goals

My short-term dream is to get a TOEFL score of 80 by the end of the EF program. And my medium-term goal is to go to university. I think this can be done at Japanese universities, American universities, or universities in other countries. I hope to improve my English skills through the study abroad program and use it as a stepping stone for higher education. After that, I don't know yet. However, my dream is to build and live in a big house in the future, so I'm currently looking for something that will make that dream come true.

9. Reasons for choosing long term study abroad

The main reason for this is that I simply want to master English skills well. I failed the university entrance exam, but I am still studying. If I considered going to a university overseas in the future, I want to understand teacher from classes and also to be able to communicate in daily life. Another side reason is that I wanted to dive into a world completely different from the Japanese culture, settle down, and improve myself.

10. Messages to those who consider studying abroad

I'm writing this because I think people who are thinking about studying abroad, whether through EF or not, will probably read this while researching about studying abroad.

People want to study abroad for different reasons. I think if you are given the chance to study overseas, it will definitely be an irreplaceable asset in your life. While I am writing this done, it's only been 2 months that I am in Seattle, but I feel strongly about it. Studying abroad involves big changes. You need to prepare for the cost and the changes of environment, and it's important to get support from your family and understand their thoughts as well. I'm only 18 years old. I have a lot of friends in Japan who support me, and I have a supportive family that has made this study abroad possible for me, and I am able to do my best right now. There are cultural differences for sure, and I realized the goodness of Japan, my family, and the greatness of my precious friends.

Studying abroad is not easy. It needs determination. People who are not prepared well will not improve their English at all even if they come here. And you will be overwhelmed by many people from other countries. You cannot rely purely on luck. Although the benefits of studying abroad are widely advertised, you will also discover many disadvantages once you start studying overseas. There is discrimination, and sometimes it can also be lonely. However, taking all that into account, if you have the chance, I would still recommend you to go. I think you should experience the benefits of studying abroad for yourself!

I think it is important to always remember why you come to study abroad and why you are going to study abroad. The long term study abroad period will seem to be short in the end, and don't waste your time here. Last but not least, don't forget to be grateful.

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