Broadening your horizons

When deciding to study abroad, many students are often hesitant about leaving the country for an entire semester, but Florence Ardon, a senior majoring in English literature, took it a step further and decided to stay for an entire academic year. She studied at Kansai Gaidai University in Hirakata, Japan.

Florence Ardon

She first became interested in studying abroad once she transferred to UNI from Des Moines Area Community College. Though there were many countries to choose from, Japan was the place that stood out to her the most. “I have wanted to go to Japan for the longest time and I wanted to teach English in Japan, and since I had the opportunity to do that I took the chance to study abroad for an entire year,” said Florence.

Although staying for an entire year can be intimidating, Florence was ready to accept the challenge. “Studying abroad is a life experience that, in my opinion, is worthwhile to go for a year so you can learn more about the culture of the country and how the locals function,” said Florence. “It also helped me understand American culture from the view of somebody else.”

During her time abroad, Florence first stayed with a host family and then in the dorms. Spending an extended amount of time in Japan opened her eyes to unique differences in Japanese culture and daily life. “The food was much healthier than what I was used to, so that was one of the biggest challenges, but transportation is the one major difference since we don’t have a good public transportation system here in the states,” said Florence.

Florence spent most of her time on campus during the week, but was always eager to travel to new places in her free time, including Okinawa, Fukuoka, Nara and Kyoto

Time spent away from the United States and in a completely different culture has given Florence a greater appreciation for other cultures and a better understanding of the world. “After this program, I see the world from a different view,” said Florence, “My problems are not as big as they seem and I am now more tolerant of different situations.”

Florence will graduate in the spring of 2017, and plans on returning to Japan for work and to see and experience more of the country.

For more information about study abroad programs at UNI, visit or call 319-273-7078.