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Study Abroad Profile: Brianna VanNoy

Brianna VanNoy, a Buckeye abroad

Program: Public Health Perspectives– Japan
Location: Japan
Rank: Senior
Major: Environmental Public Health

"I chose the Public Health Perspectives- Japan Study Abroad program because I really wanted to gain field experience in environmental public health. Having learned about the healthcare system in the United States, I wanted to experience first-hand the Japanese healthcare system. Moreover, Japan has been home to several environmental health disasters over the last decade, and so it was an absolute privilege for me to learn and experience the places and people so key in my course of study.

Studying abroad has made me a better college student and better global citizen. I returned to campus with a fresh perspective, particularly concerning international students and international affairs. Learning to communicate with Japanese citizens without the use of words really fostered self-awareness and non-verbal communication skills. Moreover, I learned to adapt to unfamiliar situations and became more culturally competent in my interactions with others.

My favorite memory of studying abroad was probably the most humbling and chilling memory as well. During our final field trip, we traveled to Ishinomaki, home of the great tsunami and earthquake of 2011. Although the rebuilding process was underway, there was still an eerie feeling in the air - a feeling of loss, a feeling of hopelessness. It is one thing to read about a tragedy or hear about it through the media, but in the words of my resident director, it is something completely different to "see it, feel it, and smell it." On that day, I had the chance to see the devastation of an earthquake and tsunami. I felt the loss of lives and livelihoods and homes. All that was left to smell was the smell of ocean water; the ocean water that had elevated to over 25 meters in height and had washed away entire landscapes. Four years later I could still see, feel, and smell these things. And for me, that was incredibly powerful."