College of Arts and Sciences/
2012～2013/At a student exchange circle event that I took part in my first and second year at university, I had a conversation with a Chinese student, and I was so impressed by the strength of their
At a student exchange circle event that I took part in my first and second year at university, I had a conversation with a Chinese student, and I was so impressed by the strength of their will and passion that I decided to study at Beijing University. I wasn’t sure whether to go to an English-speaking country, but since I wanted to study a language other than English, and I wanted to test myself among Chinese students, I decided to go to China.
I took classes together with the regular Chinese students in the International Relations Theory department of Beijing University. At first, the lessons in Chinese were hard, but my friends helped me with reports and presentations, and I just about managed to follow. Regulation of freedom of speech is strict in China, but the International Relations department of Beijing University is said to be very liberal, and there were almost no limits on what could be said in the classes. It was very interesting to hear what the Chinese lecturers and students thought in the classes. I think it is a very great achievement that before returning to Japan, I had been able to read and write and discuss in Chinese regarding international relations to a certain extent.
Outside of studies, I joined a club and took part in educating children from migrant farming families, and went to a regional city as an intern. Beijing University is an elite world, but if you take one step outside, there are poor areas in the Beijing suburbs, and in other regional cities the culture and language is totally different, so I was able to come into contact with the many faces of China.
Over my 10 months abroad, just when I thought I had gotten used to life in Beijing, something happened again to make me think “No way!” I think that these experiences help me to become more adaptable. I experienced many differences compared to life in Japan. For example, in club activities, rather than planning things well in advance, students work intensively just before the event, and decisions are made from the top-down, without worrying about reaching a consensus, so things happen much quicker than in Japan. At first I was bewildered, but as I tried living there, I was satisfied that in the world of China, such approaches make sense.
The thing I gained most from my overseas studies was the confidence to know that I can make it in a new environment. When I worked with Chinese students in class or in my club, I thought my limited languages skills would be an impediment. But, I found things that I was able to do with a little help from those around me. After I got back I was happy when my lecturer told me that I had “really grown.” There are also many beautiful places, amazing natural sites and a lot of delicious food in China. It was a really fantastic 10 months. Everyone should definitely look into studying overseas.