Diversity Abroad – Blog

Pre-departure Thoughts

Hello. I am Najah Yasin and this is my first post as the recipient of the DiversityAbroad Scholarship. I am a junior majoring in Architecture at Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and will be studying abroad in Tokyo, Japan at Temple University Japan in Spring 2016.

"Hello, it's me, Najah Yasin." Rocking my vintage one star American flag T-shirt ready to take on Tokyo!

“Hello, it’s me, Najah Yasin.” Rocking my vintage one star American flag T-shirt ready to take on Tokyo, Japan!

Now, since the facts are out the way, lets get down to my thoughts! Today, I will be writing about my family, pre-departure arrangements (flights and housing), and researching Tokyo.


My parents gave me permission to study abroad. To some, it may not sound like a big deal, but coming from an Islamic background, it is difficult for the parents to allow their daughter to leave their home before marriage. I honestly can not figure out the techniques used convinced them to study abroad. I’m afraid to admit that I almost didn’t have to do any convincing and talking to my parents. I simply worked hard for attaining scholarships, and it was almost impossible for my parents to deny me the opportunity to complete something I have been eager to achieve.

I want to help other female Middle Eastern females study abroad. When I was a freshmen in college, I never thought I would study abroad and always denied the possibility of study abroad. I think it was my eagerness to evolve into a more self-reliant person without the shelter of my parents, that lead into studying abroad. It was the same leading reason that pushed me through the application process of many scholarships. I am thankful for the determination that I had while applying in the applications. I am thankful the scholarship programs such as DiversityAbroad that provided me with funding going towards studying abroad. There’s so many things that I am thankful for, you would think it’s Thanksgiving.


There are two other students that are also studying abroad to same location that I have a close relationship with. This creates advantages, such as booking our flight together to receive cheaper tickets and saving our time by sharing information and resources that we locate. We received lower cost flight tickets and are in the process of locating independent housing. Since there were three students arranging reservations to fly, the price decreased. We had also purchased our tickets during Cyber Monday, which reduced each ticket by $50. Hey I know $50 is not too large of a savings, but that money can go towards a great dinner abroad. We saved by booking flights together, using Student Universe (flight website that generates lower cost flights for students, and shopping during Cyber Monday. The estimated flight ticket that my university estimated was $1,400 per person; however, our tickets were $832 per person. Holy smokes, that’s a large savings.

If you are a student planning on purchasing tickets, I suggest to locate other students that are in the same program or flying to the same location. There is one factor that you must take an account for: the payment. Since there can only be one form of payment for the reservation of the tickets, one would need to purchase through credit/debit card that has the necessary amount, while the other people pays that person. If you are interested in completing this, but have worries about payments, turn to a trusted adult for advice and guidance. With our flight situation, I was able to purchase the tickets on card, while one person provided me with a check, and the other is making payments on cash.me app (a mobile application that deposit money instantly from one bank account to another.) I asked that person to make a deposit of $200 to cover any cancellation fee that may occur in case that person changes their mind.

I am also planning on locating independent housing with the same two people that I purchased tickets with. We have a meeting every three weeks/ one month to discuss flights and housing. Our meetings involve on determining the types of housing to locate, whether its a shared house or an apartment and simply sharing our findings. We are having a meeting this week on selecting our top picks for housing.

Airbnb is the primary source we utilize to locate housing in Tokyo.


For a reference of a time frame, we got accepted into the program a month ago. We booked our flight last week, and currently narrowing down on housing. There is only 29 days until our flight. Time is going by. Working together makes the process less daunting and we are able to have more time to locate better sources because we share our information. Find a set of people, build a connection, build trust and hold meetings!


I have been researching Tokyo and it’s culture to lessen the cultural shock and help me become better prepared. One of my personal goals was to evolve into a more self-reliant person, as I mentioned earlier in the post, and I will achieve this goal by first prepping myself with all the information I may need. Although, I have not learned any Japanese and am worried about reading food menus in Japanese. However, I will practice the language after finals week ends. Wow this is really happening. It is exciting and fun!

During Thanksgiving dinner at Newman Church, Lourdes Monje and Gresham Smith, my flight and housing partners, are at the very right end.