Learn Amid a Diverse Array of Values
Living like the locals
Because of my father’s work, I had many chances to meet foreign people and I was interested in living overseas, so when it came time to enter high school, I went to high school in the United States by myself. While attending a local high school there, I found every day fulfilling, and as time passed, I came to want to study International Relations so I could learn about the relationships between countries from a variety of perspectives. After graduation, I thought about staying in the United States for university, but I decided to join the Joint Degree Program(JDP) where I could study at universities in both Japan and the United States because I wanted to meet and interact with people from a diverse array of backgrounds. I felt that the most attractive feature of the JDP was the experience of living abroad like a local that you cannot experience on a regular study abroad program where you are treated as a guest. Also, because you spend a long time in the United States, you must have a well-thought-out plan for both your studies and your daily living arrangements. Because students are put in an environment where they must carefully monitor their lifestyle, I felt that the JDP would allow me to get the most benefit out of my short time as a university student.
An environment where I can learn about
myself in relation to others and grow
After enrollment, most of my classes were held online due to the COVID-19 pandemic. I struggled to get used to campus life in the spring of my first year, but I think I was blessed with a tight-knit group of like-minded classmates and faculty members.
In fact, in the College of International Relations and on the JDP, the students and faculty members have a diverse array of backgrounds. There are people like me who have lived abroad before, people who were born and raised in Japan but their nationality is Chinese, and people who have come to Japan from overseas. In one place, you can meet all kinds of people you would not normally meet if you were going about your days without a plan in place. When I listen to what led everyone to this program and what their dreams for the future are, it helps me get to know them better while also making me think about myself in relation to others. The JDP does not just provide you with exposure to new values and opportunities to expand your horizons, it is also a highly stimulating environment that forces you to ask yourself who you really are.
What I have felt by studying International Relations on the JDP is that the discipline is connected to other fields and topics that, at first glance, don’t seem to be related. Most Japanese universities divide up academic disciplines by college, but actually, there are no boundaries between disciplines. They are all loosely interconnected and share some common points. It is very interesting to be exposed to all kinds of themes in the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences through the lens of the interdisciplinary field of International Relations.
Even though I was in the United States until two years ago, I am feeling a little nervous just before my departure. I spent my high school years on the West Coast, and Washington D.C. is on the East Coast. The environment is completely different in terms of people, culture, and climate. Leaving Japan, where I was born and raised, is something that makes me feel uneasy, but I am relieved to know that there are many advisors and JDP classmates at American University(AU).
In this subject, students learn the methods for researching issues related to international relations, using sustainable development, conflict and peace, human rights, gender, environmental issues, immigration and refugee issues, and other topics as a starting point. First of all, students critically review existing research. After that, they formulate a hypothesis related to a topic of their choosing, consider research methods, collect data, and write a report. This is one of the subjects where students can deepen their interaction with each other through discussions and workshops.
Continuing to pursue what
I want to do right now
At AU, I plan to engage in broad-based learning in my major of Global and Comparative Governance. If I find a topic that appeals to me, I might even choose to go to graduate school. As for the future, I only have a vague idea that I would like to secure a job that allows me to interact with a variety of people, so I would like to use my two years in the United States to determine the path I should take. I want to pursue the things I want to do, put all my energy into what is in front of me, and try many new things. This is the attitude that I will take to heart.
With classes and assignments, every day on the JDP is busy. It is hard to keep yourself motivated to learn, and there are some difficult times. However, I feel that the program offers me the best environment for thinking carefully about topics that interest me and will allow me to deepen my learning even further based on where my feelings take me. I am very glad that I chose the JDP, where I can make the most of my four short years as a university student and get back more than I ever expected.
Interview date: July 28, 2021
Proactively learning in a stimulating environment surrounded by international students
2nd-year studentAmi Kaibori
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