Skip to body

Office of International Studies and Programs

Give to OISP


Contact Us

Phone: +1-509-963-3612
More Contact Info

Central Washington University
Office of International Studies and Programs
Hebeler Hall 102
400 E. University Way
Ellensburg, WA 98926-7408

Saori Mizugaki

SAORI MIZUGAKI  水垣沙織  (Cycle 2, 2002; Sparks Hall resident; Law major)



“It was my first experience camping in my life,” Saori says. “I—a person who had never slept in a sleeping bag nor a tent—went to a campground in the U.S. where we were the only people around. That night was completely pitch black and we just trusted the light of a flashlight. Since there wasn’t anything to do besides talking, I did my best with my poor English and talked a lot that night. I can’t forget the starry sky on that cold evening. When I think about it now, I find it’s not an experience easily gained and feel nostalgic about those times.”

“I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for AUAP,” she said. “My experiences from that time gave me confidence. Before participating in AUAP, I lived my life very concerned about what people around me thought.  I desperately wanted not to be disliked and wanted to blend in.  After returning to Japan, I had a little confidence in myself and tried to value my own opinions more.  I started to become able to say something was wrong if I thought it was wrong, and that hasn’t changed even now.”

That same lack of confidence caused her culture shock during AUAP. “I couldn’t communicate well with my roommate, so I decided that she didn’t like me and that made the atmosphere in the room awkward. That led into culture shock, and I convinced myself that I was the only one who had it that rough. I thought that I would have been able to speak well if I could’ve used Japanese, but since I couldn’t speak English and say what I was thinking, I stopped trying to communicate. I talked with my friends and AUAP staff, and got help saying what I wanted.  I remember feeling refreshed from that conversation and got over my culture shock.”  
Saori improved her English during AUAP by first telling herself it’s okay to make mistakes and committing herself to speak a lot. Once she got used to that, she had others point out her mistakes and tried hard to fix them. Since AUAP, she’s traveled to Canada, Taiwan, China, Thailand, the Philippines, Cambodia, India, and Korea for both work and sightseeing, because she wanted to see how Japan is viewed from the outside.  She’s taken more than 10 trips back to the U.S, but says there are still so many more places there she hasn’t seen.

For job hunting advice, she says that it’s okay to say that you want to use English in your work, but you may want to think about how you want to contribute to the company or society through using English. Furthermore, it’s best if you can express to other people what you realized about yourself through AUAP, how you changed, and what experiences you had that others didn’t.

Saori thinks that AUAP at CWU is good because the university is not overly big, and because it’s easy to become close to American students in common spaces on campus.  “Five months will go by before you know it,” she tells current students. “It’s a waste if your shy or reserved!  Please enjoy this time.”

Go Back

Take the Next Step to Becoming a Wildcat.