Reasons that sound like excuses

Chatan, Okinawa

I had difficulty agreeing with Dipak Basu’s Dec. 2 letter, “Good reasons to stay at home,” about why Japanese youth tend not to study abroad. He mentions costs and the fear of racism.

Regarding tuition, there are tuition-waiver programs for sister schools, and as for living expenses, careful budgeting and a strong yen makes study abroad certainly doable, especially in the United States. Having studied abroad more than two decades ago in France as well as doing a semester-long internship in Washington, D.C., I benefited from a tuition-waiver program and lived a Spartan student life in Paris and then in Washington.

Basu’s comment on racism was very unclear. Did he mean the host country, fellow students or others whom the person studying abroad would come into contact with?

In any case, it is vital to leave one’s comfortable surroundings, get exposed to different ideas, cultures and peoples — even to those who may not “like” you because of your nationality or ethnicity. It is the perfect chance to change people’s minds and perceptions, and perhaps learn a thing or two in the meantime.

One returns from study abroad with more understanding about the host country, more appreciation of one’s own country, and more knowledge about oneself. It is essential to a modern education. Basu’s reasons sound more like excuses. In the end, not studying abroad boils down to a lack of thought or effort by the individual student, family, schools and society as a whole.

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.

robert eldridge