For four-years university life, Joint Degree Program is the best option for your studying and growing as a global person.

Third-year Joint Degree Program

TANAKA Aoina is in her second year of study at American University in the Joint Degree Program. We interviewed her about her life and personal growth in Washington, D.C., US.

What did you intend to achieve in your four-year university life before enrolling?

AoinaBefore entering the university, I had been excited to learn the international perspective and broaden my horizon as a global person. Then I found the program Joint Degree Program, which was perfect for me studying International Relations in two cosmopolitan places in Washington, D.C. and Kyoto with a variety of international personalities. I thought the program was the best option for me to cultivate an unbiased and global way of thinking for solving social problems. This is one of the primary reasons why I would like to join it to enlighten myself to be an unprejudiced talent.

I was also excited about acquiring problem-solving skills on a global scale. When I was little, I had several opportunities to go abroad and encounter unknown worlds and realms. Through the experience, I became aware of global issues that human beings have confronted. It also taught me the importance of cultivating problem-solving skills for the problems. To fulfill my goal, studying international society and politics in D.C., which is the hub of international politics, is effective. An internship relevant to politics there allows me to be involved in current and ongoing politics.

How do you find the lectures at American University?

AoinaThe first impression of American University classes is the enormous variety of courses such as art, sports, cultures, politics, and even fashion study.

One of the benefits of taking classes at American University is that all classes operate with a few students. Thus, students are willing to contact professors, and they help students nicely and familiarly. The most impressive experience in American University classes is having a massive number of readings and discussions in the class. In terms of discussion in class, I was pretty shy for the first time since English was my second language, and also, I was afraid of speaking out about my perspective. I am scared of getting criticized by other classmates. However, I realized that whatever you have opinion, just speak out. Otherwise, people do not regard you as a participant of the class or the community. Speaking out your outlook without hesitation is the most crucial thing in the classroom. Going through the discussion by insisting on your opinions, you will definitely be generous to various perspectives.

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

AoinaFor the second year, I look forward to being more outgoing and open-minded for a dynamic experience. The most impressive event since I have lived in D.C. was people usually talk about politics, American society, and even social issues in ordinary conversations that Japanese community keeps their distance from. The experience was fresh to me and made me overwhelmed. Some people from outside of D.C. told me that was only in D.C. because the district is for specialized in world politics. I would say this is a precious experience in D.C.

I am currently doing an internship mainly accompanying interviews and translating for a company that publishes a newspaper for Japanese viewers and readers of American political news. The job would be instrumental for me to study ongoing incidents in international relations, which I cannot experiment with in the lectures or the classroom. Thus, I am now more focused on outside-of-campus study for this year and would like to be active voluntarily. Being more involved in the classes is also one of my goals this second year. Although I was a bit shy last year, I am trying to be more participative and engaged in the classes by sharing my opinions.

In my daily life, I am fond of exploring the international cuisines in the DMV area which is the name of combination of D.C., Maryland and Virginia. Since the D.C. is a worldwide political area, immigrants from all over the world gathered in this area. I want try not only Asian cuisines but also Europe cuisines such as Greek and North European food.

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

AoinaFor your 4-year university life, Joint Degree Program is the best option for your studying and growing as a global person. Although usually students have to choose either to go to university in Japan or other countries, Joint Degree Program students are able to take part in both universities simultaneously. It allows you to International Relations systemically and obtain two-way benefits as an American and Japanese student. The benefits definitely bring you wider options in your future decision. Since I came to the US, I have taken pride in growing up as an individual with plenty of hardship and joy.

I appreciate this program for giving me such a precious opportunity in 4 years and I will succeed in these 2 years study abroad ultimately.

October 2023