My mom used to work with a Japanese coworker and he often taught me Japanese when I was younger. Every time I saw him, he strongly recommended me to go to Japan, and as a result, I felt a strong urge to experience a culture outside of my own.
I was initially planning to apply for a Japanese university for four years, but my parents quickly responded with “No”, feeling the time span was too long. In order to achieve my dream, I began searching for US schools with study abroad programs in Japan, and soon found the Joint Degree Program. It was like magic as I didn’t expect such programs at an undergraduate level. My mom agreed to let me study in Japan for 2 years and it all worked out.
I wanted to study in Kyoto because it has access to historical and cultural contexts everywhere. It’s a city, but not too much of a city. That’s why I picked up here and I am happy I did it!
Compared to AU, which is course-intensive with a lot of reading outside the class, I found the coursework less intensive at RU. I understand this because the classes are designed not only for English native speakers but for students who don’t speak English as a first language.
On a social aspect, I feel RU is very amicable and accommodating. Professors are extremely easy to interact with. They are willing to stay after the class and have conversation with students for a long period of time.
At RU we have many cultures coming together and what I found here is people have a better understanding of how to keep these cultures together. In other words, they keep in mind a person next to you.
I have joined a dance circle on campus and I found RU students are quite energetic. They are so passionate about what they want to do. It’s incredible to witness this and I am learning so much from talking to them.
When I first arrived, I could barely understand what other students would say and I could not speak back to them. So initially they gave me yes or no questions until I started gaining more confidence in responding to them in Japanese. They are very positive and helpful, always encourage me to try.
Talking of RU Home Students, I think they are very knowledgeable and have a sense of understanding. I’m very curious to see how they turn that understanding into their opinions in the future.
When we came here, they helped us get used to new environments and interact with other RU students. I believe my duty as an AU Home Student is to help them get ready for going to AU.
My very first goal is to confidently speak Japanese on a conversational level so that I can speak to professors outside the English majors in Japanese. I want to learn more about Japanese history, government and economy from them.
My goal overall while I am here is to become a successful student helpful to other people on campus. I’d like to be the student that they feel able to talk to, regardless of their languages. It can be done via community services, or working for an office on campus where students are coming for help.
One day I’d love to be a TA to assist a class during my time at RU. I don’t know if an undergrad can, but I want to be a resource for other students. The best way to advance oneself can be through servicing others.
In the future, I’m actually looking to study at a law school. It would be great to study deeper into the international business law and how it can be utilized to help marginalized groups.
The more that I learn about myself, I find that my path is still not certain. I have a strong interest in economics, working for an NGO, and creating economic systems to help women, but there is still much that I am interested in.
These are not what I originally wanted as a profession, but I believe my life plans have changed as I learned about marginalized people who need help on a daily basis. Someday I want to find a solution through laws to create safe spaces for people, no matter what background, gender, race, ethnicity and sexuality. That’s the goal!
Interviewed by Hajime Akiyama, JDP Program Coordinator (shown left above)