Incoming Student

Janice Koh

Malaysia/College of Arts and Science (PEAK)/Undergraduate Student/Hi, I’m from Malaysia. I speak English, ‘Manglish’ (Malaysian English), Mandarin, Japanese, Malay, Indonesian, Cantonese, and many more. I often mix languages, and speak ‘Manglish’ occasio
Introduce yourself.
Hi, I’m from Malaysia. I speak English, ‘Manglish’ (Malaysian English), Mandarin, Japanese, Malay, Indonesian, Cantonese, and many more. I often mix languages, and speak ‘Manglish’ occasionally, so please pardon my ‘ok–lah.’ I guess the most interesting thing about me is that I was a homeschooler. I’m now an amateur photographer, guitarist, and pianist.

What attracted you to Komaba, UTokyo?
The PEAK program sounded interesting. I first heard about it at a talk in my high school/college. The professor’s enthusiasm about the new program captured me. I like the liberal arts concept, and also Environmental Science. All in all, it sounded fun and exciting.

Describe your transition to Komaba, UTokyo.
It was a bit hard to get use to a foreign culture at first. I didn’t know the rules or the norms, but people were kind enough to help show me around. The Komaba campus is really beautiful, and it was a pleasure to be studying in it.

Describe the adjustment to Japanese culture.
I guess the hardest thing was the language, and learning to appreciate another’s culture. Japanese culture is really interesting, and has been very well-preserved. You will get used to the culture here after a while. Sometimes, it will stick with you even when you return to your home country. I still make mistakes off and on, but it’s better now. My advice is that if you don’t know something, ask about it, and at least you won’t stand out.

What have been your best experiences at Komaba, UTokyo so far?
My best experiences in Komaba so far has been watching the seasons change. As a photographer, I really love how the ‘ginko’ leaves change their color, and also the blooming of the ‘sakura’ trees. The campus gets really pretty, and I must say photogenic.

Describe the friendships and connections you’ve made at Komaba, UTokyo.
I have made really close friends in my course. We hang out on weekends, study together, travel together, eat together, shop together, and do many things together. I also am involved in a Bible study circle, and we meet regularly. It feels like a family. Other than that, I do meet with AIKOM, USTEP, and other international students that are studying in Komaba. It’s fun to have international friends, and they give a lot of color and life to Komaba. I also do interact with various other students around Komaba. Japanese or not Japanese we can all still be friends.

What’s your favorite thing about Shibuya and Tokyo?
My favorite thing about Tokyo would have to be Shibuya, because I live so close to it, and it’s a really good place to go for the weekends. There are a lot of nice restaurants and shops, and Shibuya is a convenient place to meet up with people.

How did you prepare for your journey to Komaba, UTokyo?
I took some Japanese classes in my home country. I also researched about Japanese culture. Making friends with both Japanese and international students in Japan will help you a lot in dealing with both Japanese people and their culture. Reading about other people’s experiences in Japan also gave me clues as to what to expect when I arrived in Japan.

If you could give one piece of advice to a new international student or researcher, what would it be?
Have FUN. Love this new experience of being in Japan. It may be tough, painful, weird, and confusing at times, but learn to appreciate it. It will make you a stronger person. There are also very precious memories that you will make while in Komaba, so enjoy and treasure them.
Work hard. Learning a new language and culture is hard, but DON’T GIVE UP. You’ll get better.


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