Thomas Maxwell ’18

The Franklin College campus may be small, but its opportunities are global. Following his 2018 graduation from Franklin College, Thomas Maxwell found himself on a plane destined for Japan, a path he chose because his college education helped him embrace new experiences.

Thomas Maxwell“The great thing about Franklin is that they encouraged me to study abroad. They encouraged me to seek out these opportunities to put myself out of my comfort zone, try new things, go to new places and meet new people.” – Maxwell

Thomas always loved language and travelling. He majored in French, eventually added a Spanish minor and participated in study abroad trips to France and Spain. While in France Thomas heard about Franklin’s sister city program with Kuji, Japan, which gives students the opportunity to teach English to Japanese students for two years. Thomas applied to the program and began a new adventure in Japan.

“Ultimately when I moved to Japan, not only was it obviously a different country but it was a completely different to any sort of culture or experience I’d previously had. But because I’m so accustomed to adapting to a new environment, it really probably wasn’t as severely shocking as it might have been.” – Maxwell

This flexibility came in especially handy when the language lover soon realized learning Japanese was nothing like learning Spanish or French.

“I have quite a bit of experience learning languages. But nothing I had done really prepared me for the extremeness of the task of learning Japanese. With learning Japanese, I had to do everything backwards. When it comes to Japanese, you learn to speak it and understand it before you really learn how to read it and write it.” – Maxwell

Thomas stayed in Japan for two years. By the time he left, he could understand about 75 percent of what he heard and could converse well with native speakers. Learning the language connected him to an otherwise completely foreign culture.

He recently returned to the States, settling in Shelbyville, Indiana. Looking back, Thomas is grateful that Franklin College fosters an environment that dedicates itself to pushing the students out of their comfort zone.