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USM Voices: Anju Roy studying in Japan and competing in 2017 Tokyo Kimono Queen Contest

Anju Roy, left, is pictured here during the 2017 Tokyo Kimono Queen Contest

Here at USM we have many voices that make up our community. We're pleased to continue USM Voices - an opportunity for students, faculty, staff, alumni and more to share their thoughts about all things USM. This blog post is from our Office of International Programs. If you would like to share a blog post with us for potential publication, please submit your blog idea here

Anju Roy, a USM History major and archaeology minor (pictured on the left), is currently spending the 2016-17 Academic Year in Japan at USM's partner institution, Kanda Gaigo University (located in Chiba, Japan). A second generation Japanese-American, Anju has traveled to Japan before and was raised in a bilingual home learning both Japanese and English. Although she learned a great deal about the Japanese culture from her mother, this was her first extended stay in Japan and she noted that one of the things she has enjoyed the most is "being able to study Japanese, and make so many amazing friends who can speak to me in my native language."

Of course, there have been some adjustments such as getting used to the teaching style which focuses "a lot less on reading work and much more on handwritten assignments." However, she has risen to meet several challenges, including squeezing on to the morning train in Japan "which is notoriously crowded" in order to make it to class on time.

During her time at Kanda Gaigo, Anju entered the 2017 Tokyo Kimono Queen Contest held on NovemberImage from 2017 Tokyo Kimono Competition in Nihonbashi, Tokyo. During this, the contest's 50th year, Anju was able to represent Kanda Gaigo in the newly added Foreign Students Division. The significance of the event cannot be understated, as included in the day was a celebratory message and the display of flowers sent from Japan's Prime Minister Abe.

With more than 160 Japanese and foreign participants, Anju made it to the 14 foreign student finalists. When asked why she decided to participate in the contest Anju told us, "I love the kimono and have a lot of pride for my culture, so when I was offered a chance to represent my school I was very excited! The girls from the other schools, both Japanese and international, were all amazingly beautiful and kind. It was great getting to know them and uphold a piece of Japanese tradition alongside them."

Based on this recent experience Anju has "solidified her plans for attending graduate school in Japan, and perhaps moving there permanently."

Image from 2017 Tokyo Kimono Competition

We are so proud of Anju and the manner in which she has represented Maine, the University of Southern Maine and her culture.

If you are interested in study abroad, the University of Southern Maine has a variety of options, from reciprocal programs where students pay USM in-state tuition rate to a wide array of short-term travel programs offered throughout the year. 

The university has also been working diligently to secure additional funding for study abroad and thanks to gracious donors such as the Kaufmans, the Padulas, the Woodburys, the estate of A. Carolla Haglund and many others, funding is in place to help students participate in these amazing, life-changing opportunities.

To learn more visit the USM Office of International Programs at 101 Payson Smith or our website at