East Asian Studies

Alyssa Sardone

To Mount Fuji, By Bullet Train!

Alyssa Sardone  learned to push her limits and was empowered – and enlightened- after a study abroad experience in Tokyo, Japan.


East Asian Studies, Media & Communications


Japanese, Film Studies, International Relations


I studied abroad at Sophia University located in Tokyo, Japan (Yotsuya section) in Summer 2013.

My Experience

I became much more independent after my study abroad in Japan. Being in a foreign country, regardless of my language proficiency, was an empowering experience. Going to Japan was a dream of mine, so when the opportunity came to study abroad, I took it without hesitation. I learned a great deal about human behavior and about the Japanese culture. Before traveling to Japan, I was not confident in my speaking ability. However, my confidence increased as my stay ensued, and I was able to converse freely with friends and adults; not afraid of making mistakes. I feel that studying abroad in Japan allowed me to grow up as it pushed my limits. I am proud of myself!  I am grateful for this experience and for the opportunity to study and create unforgettable memories. Also, the classes in which I was enrolled were writing intensive, and as such, I believe my writing has improved.

The Coolest Part of the Experience

There were two parts of my experience in Japan that were by far the most inspiring. One was my trip to the Studio Ghibli Museum located in Mitaka and the other was my trip to Tokyo Big Site Convention Center located in Odaiba (both in Tokyo). Hayao Miyazaki’s films played a large role in my development as a person and I am forever fascinated by his works. The Studio Ghilbi Museum was a Miyazaki wonderland. It showed how his movies are made from pre-production to final product. I am interested in film studies and the effect film has on people, so walking through this museum and taking in the different exhibits was truly fascinating.  I visited the Tokyo Big Site Convention Center to attend Comike, which was an experience unlike any other. What I gathered from fellow classmates was that Comike was slightly similar to Comic Con. Going to Comike was a course assignment given by my Pop Culture professor. He told my class to go to Comike and observe the people there and their behaviors and then connect them back to readings previously discussed in class. I must admit; I have never seen anything like it in my entire life. There was wall to wall manga and mainstream artwork as well as people dressed up in outfits from their favorite Japanese shows. Overall, the experience was worthwhile because I was able to converse with some of the vendors and learned that many of the vendors studied at Kyoto Seika: School of Manga. It was so cool to participate in these experiences. I was able to go to these places and discover exciting and new facets of Japanese culture that I never knew existed. Going to Studio Ghibli and Comike gave me a different and more introspective look of Japanese culture for which I am thankful.

Who I Met that Made a Difference

Students from all over the world were in my classes. I met students from Luxembourg, Paris, Korea, China, and Taiwan and from all parts of the United States. I became friends with a group living right around the corner at Seton Hall University.  We all shared a common goal – to better understand the Japanese culture – and that has made an impact on me because I have always been in very small classes (high school and college alike) studying Japanese and the Japanese culture. Sharing ideas with a large group of people interested in the same Asian topics as I am was enlightening.