Outgoing Student

Yu Ito

College of Arts and Sciences/ Science Po (France)/ 2010~2011/Looking back on my 10 months in France, I strongly feel again the influence of the things I experienced through my life studying overseas and what I was thinking at that time. I looked at overs
Looking back on my 10 months in France, I strongly feel again the influence of the things I experienced through my life studying overseas and what I was thinking at that time.
I looked at overseas study as a first step to my goal of doing development aid work, but when I actually started living abroad there were many things that didn’t go as I expected.

I was faced with a mountain of challenges, I couldn’t express myself oral presentations in class and I had trouble with day-to-day procedures. I came up against things that I found difficult in every aspect of my stay and often experienced inner conflicts, which came from facing my own weakness and powerlessness. I really struggled with every little thing, and while I couldn’t solve everything, I think that this struggle itself led to who I am today.

While there were many things that I found hard, there were also many things that I enjoyed and was happy about. I was exposed to many value systems through exchange with friends from all different backgrounds outside of college, and while it sounds like a bit of a cliche, I strongly felt that the world is an enormous place full of interesting things. The thing that impressed me the most was when I was invited to a friend’s home for Christmas and was able to experience the traditional customs of a French Christmas. It wasn’t showy, but in my heart I could sense the importance of the family, and I remember being moved by the warm atmosphere. That friend is now studying in Kyoto, and this New Year I was able to invite her to my home to experience the traditional customs of Japan. Her friendship, and the relationships I made with people I met during my stay are my treasures, and I will always keep them close to my heart.
My experience as a foreign student in French society was a wonderful opportunity to be directly exposed to the real culture of France and French people’s value systems. I was shocked many times by the differences in French culture compared with the life I was used to in Japan, but, I grew to love the very human and rich country of France in many different ways.

During this 10-month experience I also felt my identity as a Japanese, as an Asian, more strongly than at any other time in my life. The Great East Japan Earthquake happened while I was away, and it made me think about what it means to be a “Japanese person overseas.” I started to think that I might want to contribute to Japan through my work in the future. As I think about my future back here in Japan, I feel that my formative experience studying overseas will become a guiding principle and motivation.

Finally, to other students who are thinking of studying overseas.

The academic purpose of studying abroad during your time as an undergraduate is often not as clear as it is when studying overseas for a Master’s or higher degree. So some people may hesitate to do so.
An acquaintance of mine also pointed this out to me before I decided to study overseas, and I struggled with it.
However, having finished my stay, I personally think that going overseas, changing your environment drastically itself is very meaningful.

Outside Japan you come into contact with people with different value systems, and I think that the experience of having your idea of “common sense” upset is very valuable for you later in life.

I hope that anybody with even a little interest in overseas study will make use of the excellent AIKOM system and proactively look into it.


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