University of Vermont

The College of Arts and Sciences

Global and Regional Studies Program


Molly Thurlow shares highlights from her year abroad at Toyo University in Tokyo...

My name is Molly Thurlow and I am a Japanese major and Asian Studies minor.  Last year I studied abroad at Toyo University in Tokyo through the ISEP program. I lived in an international dorm and was able to make many new friends not only from Japan, but from around the world. Throughout the year I attended classes and wandered around Tokyo, experiencing modern and traditional Japanese culture. It was an amazing, adventure-filled year -- hands down the best year of my life!


Molly Thurlow in Tokyo



In November my school gave us the opportunity to spend three days with a host family in Gunma prefecture. It was really scary at first, since no one in my family spoke English, but it was an amazing experience being able to use my Japanese skills and experience what normal family life is like outside of the city.





Molly Thurlow with class of children



This picture is from when we visited an elementary school during the home-stay program. We were invited into classrooms to play and talk with the children. My class played card games and then they showed me a dance they were practicing for a school festival. The kids are dressed in hairnets and such because it was lunchtime and the students become the lunch ladies and serve each other.





Molly Thurlow


In January the ward I lived in invited us foreigners to participate in a traditional Japanese holiday called “seijinshiki” or Coming of Age Day. Kids who have turned 20 in the last year all get together and have a ceremony at a local hall and are reunited with all their childhood friends. It was such a fun day for me as my friend let me borrow his family kimono to wear. I had to go to a local salon to be dressed in the traditional way and it took over an hour! We went to the ceremony where they talked for a bit and then had a famous Japanese band perform. Then my friend took me and a few other foreigners to a park and we just walked around and enjoyed the day. It was such an amazing once in a lifetime experience and one of my favorite memories of the year.




Molly Thurlow


At Toyo University I took lots of different classes. All the study abroad students had to take Japanese classes, but after that we were able to choose our electives. I took some classes that were just conversing with Japanese students in English, some Japanese culture classes, and a literature course. But my favorite, and most challenging, class was psychology. My advisor at Toyo was the professor and asked me to take it to have an American prospective of things. The class was a senior seminar and in Japanese, so most of the time I was really lost. But the students were so nice and I ended up having so much fun!





Molly Thurlow outside with fellow students



When people think about Japan, probably the first two things they think about are sushi and cherry blossoms. I didn’t eat that much sushi, but I was able to see lots of cherry blossoms! In Japan people actually have “cherry blossom viewing parties” where you have a picnic and sit under the trees. This is me and friends from a club that I had joined at my school.





Molly Thurlow with statue of Big Buddha




This is a picture of the Daibutsu, or Big Buddha, of Kamakura. I spent an entire day walking around Kamakura sightseeing with friends from class, and we also went to the island of Enoshima, where I was able to see the Pacific Ocean for the first time.





Molly Thurlow and friends




With friends at Kenchou-ji in Kamakura





Molly with friends in kimonos




This is a picture from a kimono try-on event our school held for us. We picked our kimono and had a little photo shoot and then had a traditional tea ceremony.



Last modified February 26 2013 01:46 PM