Writing for JCMU

I drew from my own experiences in Japan as well as on student photos, online research, and common questions. Some are comedic and some are more serious. With each post, I tried to think about our audience: current students, prospective students, alumni, and community members. My goal was to provide something useful and interesting in addition to rounding out the Center’s social media presence.

I had the opportunity to work with my supervisor, JCMU’s Media Specialist, on some posts. I always sent them to him for review when I was done, but sometimes I had questions about how to find a certain photo in our folders or about a specific detail of the center I wanted to accurate on. We would often discuss tone, keeping in mind our diverse audience (which included Japanese speakers) and making sure to include them by making posts approachable and avoiding confusion.

You can read all of my posts here, and I’ve pulled out a few of my favorites to showcase. The first post I wrote is still one of my favorites, since it applies directly to students living at JCMU and suggests easy, nearby activities they can reach on foot or by bike. Some students are intimidated by train travel, or can’t afford the time and money it takes to go long distances. I wanted to help them enjoy themselves with this list of places I enjoyed going when I was a student at JCMU.

Sometimes you just want to have a public breakdown in a train station without some nice old man trying to make conversation with you.

From “How to Study Abroad When You’re Shy

Another favorite of mine is this satirical post about studying, which is meant to parody the way some people talk about Japanese customs as ultra-mysterious and archaic. Most of the “rules” I mention are totally made up or just common sense, and I had fun thinking of the next ridiculous situation I could pretend someone would want to study in. I also gave honest recommendations below each point, so that no one would leave the post seriously confused or wondering what was actually appropriate.

Finally, I was proud of how this post about studying abroad as an introvert turned out. It was deeply rooted in personal experience, and I wanted to let people like me know that they aren’t alone (unless they want to be, as is the point of the post!). I also felt that it was an under-represented face of study abroad, which is often represented as something for gregarious, outgoing people rather than something enjoyed by all kinds of students.I also had the opportunity to write posts from the perspective of JCMU’s mascot, a swan named Hiraku. That was always a fun chance to write in a specific voice and with a different tone, much more casual and fun than even my silliest normal posts. You can read my contributions here, here, and here.

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My Japan Blog

I studied abroad in Japan at the Japan Center for Michigan Universities during the 2017-18 academic year, a total of eight months. While I was there, I kept a blog detailing my experiences as a window into life abroad for my family, friends, and prospective JCMU students.

I wanted to shed a light on some of the things I’d always wondered about when it came to living in Japan. How do you cook in a Japanese kitchen? Can you travel on your own? What’s the deal with those hot spring monkeys? The posts are gently humorous and deal honestly with the challenges and rewards of study abroad.

I built the site on WordPress, using a theme pretty far removed from anything I’d done before. This was my first attempt at writing a blog, and I wanted it to be colorful, fun, and lighthearted. I learned a lot about post formatting, working with the limits of themes, and keeping a consistent schedule. But mostly, I enjoyed having a outlet to talk about my life.

You can read the entire blog here.

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