Empowered by her studies in Saginaw Valley State University’s Modern Foreign Languages department, student Natasha Riegle is taking her love of Japanese language to the land where it’s spoken.
The Saginaw woman in August 2017 traveled to Japan’s Kansai Gaidai University in Hirakata, Japan, where she is enrolled in the institution’s Asian Studies Program. Riegle, who is studying for a minor in Japanese at SVSU, plans to return to the United States in June 2018.
She said SVSU’s Japanese language academic program provided her with the experience and knowledge necessary for her studies abroad. There, she has continued learning the language while also studying the nation’s culture, history, political system and economics.
“I am enjoying my time in Japan even more than I expected,” she said. “It is a beautiful country with so many things to experience. I’ve learned a lot and improved in many ways. Most importantly, I’ve been able to meet some of the best friends I’ve ever had.”
Last year, Riegle applied for the Boren Scholarship, an initiative of the U.S. National Security Education Program aimed at funding opportunities for undergraduate students studying less-commonly taught languages. Riegle’s application was approved, helping her fund the overseas trip.
Riegle said she has been interested in the Japanese language since she was a child.
“I like foreign languages, and because Japanese is so different from others, it’s very fun and interesting to study,” she said. “I wanted to expand my language proficiency from just Russian and English to Japanese as well. The fact that SVSU has a Japanese minor program was one of the main deciding factors for me to choose this university.”
Before she returns to SVSU, Riegle will serve as an intern at Osaka-based Hankyu Hanshin Holdings, Inc., a major transport company in Japan.