The time I spent in Washington D.C. was the most challenging, enjoyable, and rewarding time of my life.

Third-year Joint Degree Program

We interviewed KATSURA Nodoka, a third-year Joint Degree Program student, about her life in Washington D.C., her plans for her second year at American University, and her career intentions after she finishes her studies.

What motivated you to apply to the Joint Degree Program, Ritsumeikan University, and what did you want to learn in Joint Degree Program before enrollment?

NodokaI joined this program for the following two reasons.

First, I wanted to establish a nuanced and inclusive perspective of world affairs and society by learning from both Japan and the United States. When I was studying abroad at an American high school, I studied World War II in class and had a completely different impression from what I had learned in Japan. This experience made me realize that the same fact can be interpreted completely differently depending on where and who you learn from. Unless I understand this gap and eliminate my biased lens, I will not be able to understand things in their true nature. That is why I chose JDP, where I can learn from both Japanese and the US sides.

Second, I wanted to acquire English language skills at a professional level. In American high school, my poor English skill made it hard for me to understand classes, and even establish deep friendships with my classmates. I wanted to overcome my old self by studying a lot and then going back to the U.S. to master high-level academics in English.

How did you feel the lectures at American University?

NodokaAt American University, I felt an overwhelming amount of output. Ritsumeikan University requires more “input” from lectures. On the other hand, a class at American University is a place to output (speak up, discuss, etc.) what I had inputted beforehand. Since the performance in class directly affects my grade, I tried to do readings and establish my thoughts as much as possible beforehand.

How is life in Washington D.C.?

NodokaMy most memorable experience in D.C. was working as an ambassador for the National Cherry Blossom Festival. It was great to be able to contribute to the promotion of cultural exchange between Japan and the U.S. by using the knowledge I gained from my upbringing. We conducted kite-making workshops at local elementary schools and gave presentations on the history of cherry blossoms to people around the world at the World Bank. In addition, I met a wide variety of people through my participation in events. I had the opportunity to speak with diplomats and Japanese expatriates, which helped me establish a concrete image of my career as a student of international relations. It was also memorable to talk with celebrities whom I had always seen in media.

What are you trying to achieve in your second year at American University?

NodokaI would like to achieve the following two things: increase opportunities to talk with Japanese people working in D.C., and internships in both Japanese and the U.S. corporates.

Taking advantage of the location of D.C., the center of politics and economics, I would like to learn from excellent people who are active overseas about the nature of a global person and the appeal of working overseas, and leverage this learning for my future career development.

As for internship activities, I plan to work on the management side of the National Cherry Blossom Festival, for which I was previously an ambassador. I highly recommend the internship program in the U.S. because it allows students to gain working experience with the same kind of work as full-time employees.

What are your career intentions after graduating?

NodokaI want to establish my first career in Japan. After acquiring both professional English language skills and professional experience, I would like to start working overseas in less than ten years. I am currently searching for jobs and have not yet decided on a career path, but I would like to work as a bridge between Japan and the U.S., leveraging the experience I have gained both in Japan and the U.S.

Any messages from you to the junior and the preparatory students who are looking at the Joint Degree Program at Ritsumeikan University?

NodokaThe time I spent in Washington, D.C. was the most challenging, enjoyable, and rewarding time of my life. There were many hardships, but I felt happy to experience personal growth through working hard with ambitious colleagues in a high-level environment.

D.C. is a place where the more you take action, the more opportunities will come your way.

There are countless things you can do in D.C., but since you only have two years, I recommend that you clarify what you want to achieve during your study abroad before you go.

I hope you will all enjoy your study abroad experience with no regrets!

August 2023