Leon Sanders III

Temple University Japan 2005-2006
I would say if you want to study abroad, as soon as you get to school decide which year, and then take classes beneficial to the experience you want to have. Pitt has a wide variety of culturally-focused classes. I took Japanese language courses as well as literature and language courses so that I knew a lot about the language and culture when I got there.

Leon Sanders III

Temple University Japan 2005-2006
Too many people are insulated from other cultures; you might meet people from other cultures, but you never really understand what that culture is until you go to their country and experience their day-to-day lifestyles. When you go to another country you are exposed to ways of thinking and being that are different, yet similar, to yours, which I think gives you a greater appreciation of the human story. Studying abroad and traveling abroad teaches you a better way to embrace the journey not just as a tourist but as a learner and part of that society. 

Leon Sanders III

Temple University Japan 2005-2006
The politeness of Japanese culture and its people. For example, while abroad, I lost – or rather – misplaced many items, but I never had to worry about them being taken. Once, during a festival, I left my MP3 player in the bathroom at a 7/11 and came back 30-45 minutes later. As soon as I walked back in they handed it back to me – they'd written a description of me to file with the National Lost and Found. The politeness, the attentiveness – it's a very respectful culture.

Leon Sanders III

Temple University Japan 2005-2006
Cultural competency is a big one. At med school, I found that that’s one of the things they emphasize from the very first week. You need to know what your biases are and learn how to get around your biases to treat the patient to the very best of your ability. Another big skill is the ability to adapt, and to be able to put yourself in the shoes of another person without any pretense and just live. I chose to study in Japan because I wanted to see the day-to-day life of Japanese people, and I embraced it. Embrace the path you choose.

Leon Sanders III

Temple University Japan 2005-2006
I read a lot of blogs and books. Like I said I’d grown up fascinated by Japanese culture and knew I wanted to go there. I made a decision to take classes related to Japan so I would know a lot about the culture and could speak the language before I got there, which was incredibly helpful. At Pitt, there are a lot of different culturally related classes you can take before you go. And find someone who is from the culture to share their experience with you. Try to find different perspectives from people who look like you who went to that area. For example, I found a blog from another black man who went to live and teach in Japan, and having that perspective ahead of time was really helpful.

Jeff Whitehead

Pitt in London (Spring 2002)
I had gone overseas when I was 13, and the experience was profound. Spending a summer in Australia and New Zealand was my first window into other cultures and experiences. As a result, studying abroad was always in the plans for me as I entered college. The harder question was where and what to study.

Jeff Whitehead

Pitt in London (Spring 2002)
There are situational aspects of any program overseas that prompt personal growth. For me, the most important were in the areas of public speaking, adaptability, flexibility, patience. 

Jeff Whitehead

Pitt in London (Spring 2002)
I was very homesick for several weeks, particularly given that I was studying abroad the semester after 9/11. There are some similar overtones today but in the early 2000s, there was a considerable amount of fear of the unknown. You really have to be abroad to help overcome that anxiety.

Jeff Whitehead

Pitt in London (Spring 2002)
This one is difficult for me to recall now as I tend to be pretty independent and figure things out as I go. In my day for Pitt in London, internships very rare, so if anything, I wish I would have done that. Otherwise, I’m of the opinion that you can’t be told everything – more often than not, you just have to live it.

Jeff Whitehead

Pitt in London (Spring 2002)
I did a weekend trip to Brighton which was the first of many throughout the UK. My then girlfriend, now wife, and I planned everything together, so it was our first real travel planning experience. I also *loved* my modern art course.