“One of my first questions when I was considering transferring to Rhode Island College from CCRI was, ‘Do you have a study abroad program and is it accessible to someone like me?”
In “like me,” Enrique Garcia simply meant somebody who didn’t have a lot of money.
“I was very satisfied with RIC,” said the psych major, “so I transferred.”
In his first week on campus, Garcia made his way to the Study Abroad Office, knocked on the door of the director – Gersende Chanfrau – peeked in and said, “Hey, I want to study abroad in Japan.’”
“I picked Japan because ever since I was a kid, I’ve been heavily into anime,” he said, which automatically immerses you in Japanese culture. “When I finally got the chance to actually learn the language I grabbed it.”
With a $6,000 Shinn Study Abroad Scholarship, Garcia was able to enroll in a three-month Japanese language program at the KCP International Japanese Language School in Tokyo. The program cost $6,300. Garcia only needed to come up with $300.
Language classes were held five days a week, from 1-5 p.m., and on Saturdays his Japanese culture class ran from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The instructor of culture would first teach on a topic for an hour and then take the class on a field trip to reinforce what they had learned.
Among the sites they visited were a Kabuki theatre, where actors performed a dance-drama in white face; the ancient Buddhist temple Sensō-ji, the oldest temple in Tokyo; and the city of Akihabra, considered the center of modern Japanese popular culture and a major shopping district for anime, video games, manga (Japanese comics or graphic novels) and technology.
“Akihabra is like anime heaven,” Garcia said. “Going there is like taking a special pilgrimage.”
The streets are covered with anime and manga icons, buildings are designed like anime and billboards are like flat-screen TVs that constantly play anime.