Same studies, but worlds apart: OC student enriched by study abroad

By College Relations | April 4, 2023

Jillian Seronik
Jillian Seronik in Nisshin, Japan

For one Okanagan College student, studying abroad turned into an opportunity to learn new ways of preserving old traditions in one of the most fast-paced countries in the world.

Jillian Seronik, a fourth-year Bachelor of Business Administration student from Kelowna, travelled to Nisshin, Japan, last term as part of Okanagan College’s mobility program.

She had always wanted to do post-secondary studies abroad but her dream of international studies was put on hold by the COVID-19 pandemic. Still, she signed up for mobility updates in the off-chance something would come up in future.

In 2022, she received notice that mobility studies were resuming, allowing OC students to once again study at one of many institutions that OC is partnered with. The first opportunity was in Japan studying at Nagoya University of Foreign Studies for a full term. With little experience with Asian travel and no knowledge of Japanese language Seronik hesitated at first, but ultimately made the leap – and was so glad she did.

“I have been to Europe, Mexico, Australia, but Japan wowed me and quickly became one of my favourite places,” she said.

“It’s very clean and safe, and everyone was friendly and helpful. I spoke very little Japanese, but talking with people who didn’t speak any English, it didn’t matter. They were all very kind to me.”

Seronik said studying abroad helped her apply her education to an international context. Lessons on intercultural management, and how groups with different cultures and languages interact, were playing out in real time. As she was specializing her studies in marketing and communications, Seronik was grateful to see how multiple cultures connected.

But what really added to her experience was seeing how traditional knowledge and customs were showcased with pride.

“We were able to take part in a traditional tea ceremony in Kyoto, getting to make sweets in the ceremony as well. It’s great to see how Japanese people have preserved their traditional culture and their culture is still so relevant to their society,” Seronik explained, noting she couldn’t help but compare the situation with her Indigenous background.

“While Japan is proud of its heritage and culture, that hasn’t always been the case in places like Canada. My family experienced that, and it wasn’t until college that I got the opportunity to explore my culture. In many ways, Japan provides an example of how preserving tradition and culture can be done in a modern world.”

Looking back, Seronik said she felt glad that she went for a full term of study instead of the two weeks she had initially expected.

“You only scratch the surface with two weeks in country. I lived there for four months, so that meant I had to go grocery shopping, I used transit, I had to navigate my way through the city. It’s a different experience and I was immersed in the culture,” she said.

Several OC programs are eligible for study abroad exchanges. For details, visit

Tags: Okanagan School of Business, Bachelor of Business Administration, Partnership



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