environment surrounded by
Looking for an environment where
I could learn about the world from multiple angles
I applied for the Joint Degree Program(JDP) because of a study trip I took to Indonesia when I was in high school. In Indonesia, I witnessed poverty and environmental issues first-hand, and that is when I started thinking that I wanted to learn about international problems at university. When I consulted with my teacher, he recommended that I apply for the College of International Relations at Ritsumeikan University(RU).
I was in the Global Learning Course in high school, so I had the opportunity to partake in events like a poster session with students from overseas. That being said, I was aware that I had a narrow perspective having only ever lived in Japan. To study in the College of International Relations(IR), you need to develop an international perspective toward all aspects of life, not just your academic pursuits. The JDP allows you to study in two cities and spend your campus life surrounded by international students. It was exactly the kind of learning environment that I had been looking for. This is why I decided to apply for the JDP.
What is important is trying to
communicate with others
Among the classes I have taken so far, Japanese Culture left the biggest impression on me. At first, I did not fully understand the point of learning about Japanese culture while living in Japan. After I started taking the class, however, the American professor provided interpretations of Japanese culture as viewed from outside Japan, and I found that approach fascinating. In addition, there are many classes in which we re-examine Japanese society, culture, and history, and this has allowed me to deepen my knowledge in ways that are completely different from what I had studied before. I really feel like my way of thinking has shifted and my horizons are broadening.
Although I am learning in a global environment, I still am not very confident about my English ability. Some of the material cannot be understood just by taking the classes, so I go to my professor’s office hours and ask questions to help me clear up any doubts I have. Many of the international students in the College of IR are friendly. I try hard to communicate with them, and they seek to understand what I am saying in my less than fluent English. Of course, English is a must for learning on the program, but what’s more important is taking initiative and being proactive. By learning on the JDP, I feel that I have developed an attitude of trying to understand people from other parts of the world.
For a year and a half, I have studied at RU with majors in conflict resolution and peace studies. I am also interested in the depiction of race and gender in films and other media, so I plan to delve into this topic as well. Furthermore, I hope that I can develop a more flexible mindset by studying at American University(AU). As I progress higher in my course of study, I think it will be impossible to deepen my understanding if I my thinking is biased. Most of the international students and returnee students have broad and flexible perspectives. They always inspire me, so I aim to acquire the same multifaceted way of viewing things that they have.
I am excited to leverage my experience of studying in the cultural mecca of Kyoto in my learning in Washington D.C., the political nerve center of the world. I expect to develop a more robust approach to the dynamic field of International Relations.
Japanese Culture is positioned as a Cohort Subject in the JDP curriculum. In small-group classes comprised only of RU home students and AU home students, students discuss Japanese culture from their respective Japanese and American viewpoints.
Aiming to become a proactive person
who can transcend the barriers of race,
nationality, and language
I like talking to people, so in the future, I want to become a proactive person who can communicate with others regardless of race, nationality, and language. I still do not have any specific career plans, but I want to find a job that will allow me to make the most of my learning on the JDP.
Looking back at my last year and a half on the program, it has been the busiest time in my life, but the joy and fulfillment I feel far outweighs the difficulties in dealing with such a busy schedule. The reason I can proactively tackle any challenge on the JDP is because everyone around me is rooting for me like my challenges are their own. Being surrounded by friendly classmates and sympathetic teachers increases my motivation to learn.
Naturally, I was nervous about immersing myself in a global environment from the get go. But by overcoming my fears, I have come into contact with a world I was unable to see before. Instead of not doing something and regretting it, I choose to rise to the challenge. I will continue to value this attitude as I face the many more challenges that lie ahead.
Interview date: July 28, 2021
Using My Curiosity as the Driving force to Learn Amid a Diverse Array of Values
2nd-year studentTaira Sugimoto
Exploring the value of the joint degree program
A single curriculum jointly designed by two different universities
Associate ProfessorThomas French
At the Forefront of International Higher Education:
The Joint Degree Program at Ritsumeikan University
The value of spending time in Washington D.C.,
the center of America’s global strategy