Japanese Student Interviews

Japanese Student Interviews

Japanese laws and university documents often separate “Japanese students” and “international students”. However, this separation does not apply to GDP. Find out why this is and why students decided to choose GDP. Discover the diversity of “Japanese students” at GDP!

Yuna

Joined GDP in October, 2020

I was born in Kanagawa, Japan and raised there until I was 7 years old. I moved to Sydney, Australia for 3 and a half years (during elementary school). I went back to Kanagawa and stayed there for 4 years before moving to Singapore, where I graduated high school. I actually had a really hard time in my childhood because I was quite different to my peers,  especially in elementary and middle school. First of all, when I moved to Sydney, I couldn’t speak English at all, but my mum  enrolled me in an Australian public school,  where I had to force myself to learn not only a new language but also a different culture. After coming back home from Sydney, I felt comfortable at first because I felt that I had ‘come home’ and I went to a Japanese public school where I could speak Japanese. But then it was really hard to adjust and fit into the new school environment. I felt like I was really different and  that I stood out in a bad way because of my past experience living overseas. I eventually overcame the hard times by trying to accept myself and trying not to overthink.

While in high school, I became aware of refugee/migrant issues. I learned about the Rohingya refugee crisis and I became concerned about the refugees’ rights to seek asylum. It led me to think that sociology and anthropology might help me find what I want to or can actually do to help people in similar situations. This is the reason why I’m currently taking sociology and anthropology in GDP. Besides these fields, I’m also taking courses in economics.

Student life is amazing here! It’s my first time being away from home and I was really worried whether I could have a good student life. But I came to know that everyone is very kind, friendly and open, so I am enjoying every moment here. If you are looking for an international study environment, GDP is one of your best choices. Students here are motivated and inspiring and you get to learn a lot from each other.

Aiko

Joined GDP in October, 2020

I was born and raised in Malaysia. I’m half Japanese so I was able to travel to Japan once or twice every year to visit my relatives. I was in a Chinese primary school and moved to a Japanese school in middle school and then to a Canadian international school in high school. These transitions were very challenging for me because I had to learn three different languages. My current interest is traveling. I became interested in traveling when I first traveled with my friends in high school because it made me realize that I can gain many memories and have new experiences with people in different countries as well as challenge myself to appreciate new food and culture.

I am taking courses in the Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship cluster. Since I’m also interested in global issues and gender issues, I am taking courses that relate to those issues. I became interested in gender and global issues after attending an event in 2019 called the ASEAN Sustainable Development Summit. This event gave me the opportunity to learn about issues around the world and how each country is trying to solve these issues. GDP has helped me feel more motivated to improve my language skills. Before, I did not really see any merit to improving my language skills, but after talking to many GDP students, I now think that I can be more helpful and also benefit myself by improving them.

One thing I wish I knew before entering GDP is how friendly everyone in GDP is. I was very nervous before entering GDP because I knew that there were many students from different countries and I thought it might be hard to make friends or communicate with my classmates, especially since it was during the COVID-19 pandemic as well. However, since entering GDP, I am often surprised that not only my classmates, but also my seniors are very welcoming and friendly, which has made me feel lucky and happy to be in GDP. Classes in GDP are mostly discussion-based, which is interesting because we get to talk to different students and gain more knowledge while listening to others’ opinions.

Tsukasa

Joined GDP in October, 2020

I was born in Japan but moved to Australia when I was ten. I wasn’t able to speak much English at first, so I made friends by playing rugby. Since then, sports have been a big part of my life. When I moved back to Japan when I was seventeen, things felt different and I experienced culture shock. Back in Australia, it is normal to develop a friendly relationship with neighbours, but that isn’t exactly the case here in Japan. It’s been around four years since coming back so I’ve gotten used to the environment. When I was in Australia, I missed my relatives and Japanese food. Now that I’m in Japan, I miss the beaches and the atmosphere they had.

I was a little afraid to dive into an environment that had no multiculturalism. I was originally planning to go to the Faculty of Economics, but I ended up choosing GDP for the environment. Due to GDP’s open curriculum, I get to take courses offered by the Faculty of Economics. I chose economics mainly because of personal interest. Student life is currently online and I rarely go to campus. I am currently focusing on studying for 日商簿記 (bookkeeping), on my part-time job and on helping out at my relative’s business. After graduation, I plan to work for a general trading company.

I don’t have any good messages, but I think everyone should have a general idea of what they want to do in the future before starting university. Researching about companies and requirements will help you take courses within the four years at university that are geared towards what you aim to do in the future.

Karin

Joined GDP in October, 2020

I was born in Aichi Prefecture, Japan, but I was raised in Guam, the largest and southernmost of the Mariana and Micronesian islands. As a Japanese person residing in an American environment, I was given the opportunity to learn two languages simultaneously—at home and at school. Throughout my 18 years in Guam, I was taught the various do’s and dont’s of the cultures, manners, and etiquettes of both Japan and the U.S. Furthermore, since the island’s population consists of people that come from different parts of the world, I was able to develop an open and inclusive mindset overall. In terms of my relationship to  Japan, I used to visit the country annually to see my relatives so my previous and current perspective of the place has remained the same. Japan is and always has been a substantial part of my life, where the food, traditions, mannerisms, and culture I am most familiar with originated from.

I am currently in the Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship cluster of the English-based Discovery Track, where I mainly study subjects related to economics, management, and international development. However, I also take sociology courses from the Cultural Diversity and Communities cluster. I decided to primarily focus on business because I wish to develop crucial management competencies such as communication, problem-solving, and leadership skills. I also selected sociology as a part of my studies because it concerns groups, organizations, and human interactions, and I believe having proper knowledge of the subject will play a vital role in business management. GDP has aided me in discovering my true passions and aspirations in life by allowing me to take courses from multiple clusters without being restricted to one particular field of study. It enables me to explore diverse academic disciplines and find new study interests that I wish to delve further into. My ultimate goal after graduating from the university is to work in a global business where I can utilize my bilingual skills in Japanese and English.

In my opinion, life as a GDP student is extraordinary and enlightening. Utilizing the diversity of the program, you have the opportunity to interact with other students from distinct cultures, customs, and backgrounds and to educate yourself on various aspects of different regions around the globe. In addition, as you spend your university years in Japan, you will be exposed to the unique lifestyle and traditions of the country. As a Japanese student who is more proficient in English, I perceive the program as a new form of studying abroad, where I can live in my home country while studying in the language I am most comfortable with.

Before coming to Japan/GDP, I wish I had been aware of the open and accepting qualities of the program. As a first year student, I was very anxious about whether I would be able to make friends or get along with others well, but both the professors and students at GDP were extremely welcoming towards the new class and made it incredibly easy for me to adjust to university life in Okayama. A message I would like to give to future students of the Global Discovery Program is to not be afraid of stepping outside of your comfort zone and to try out new things. If you are forever reluctant about taking that big, necessary step forward, you will definitely miss out on a lot of great opportunities and life-changing experiences.

Genki

Joined GDP in October, 2019

I was born in Tokyo, Japan. Due to my father’s work, I grew up in several other places such as Amsterdam, Antwerp and Frankfurt. It was in Frankfurt where I decided to graduate high school to explore possibilities outside of Japan. My experiences there led me to realize that something right in front of you is not always the whole story. Upon reading Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World” and Franz Kafka’s “Metamorphosis”, my views changed in the sense that the concerns, contradictions, and conflicts I had been feeling from when I was young were put into words. Growing up abroad as a Japanese, I felt like I was floating among societies, even in Japan. The books made me realize that I wasn’t the only one who felt that way.

I discovered GDP through seniors from my high school in Frankfurt who are a part of GDP. Through the program, I have been able to meet diverse people. I like the program because I can choose what to study, allowing me to explore what I feel genuinely interested in.

University is a time when you can explore what you are genuinely interested in, what you are puzzling over or feel concerned about. People in the Discovery Program have diverse backgrounds so students are not required to confine themselves to a limited way of looking at the world. If you don’t know what you want to study, take introductory courses from various fields to get to know about each field, and if you already have something in mind, go and speak to students, professors, and local people to explore a wider scope. This program is for you if you want to pursue alternatives. See you on campus!

Rakan

Joined GDP in October, 2019

I was born in Osaka, Japan, and raised in Amman, Jordan. I moved to Jordan when I was five, so everything was new for me. The language was especially a challenge as I could only speak Japanese at the time. But after about 6 months, I was fluent in Arabic and I don’t remember struggling that much with the language barrier. I consider myself to be both: a Japanese-Jordanian. But there are certain situations where I feel like I’m more of a Jordanian than a Japanese and vice-versa. I feel more Japanese when I’m with Jordanians, and I feel more Jordanian when I am around Japanese people. But in a diverse environment like GDP, I can be just myself, a Japanese-Jordanian.

The language was the least shocking thing that I faced after moving to Jordan. Then came culture, religion, war, refugee crises, and occasional terror attacks. These events and the environment in Jordan shaped my interests that I currently study about at GDP. I am mainly taking philanthropy courses with politics and economics on the side. I also take anthropology classes occasionally. The reason I became interested in philanthropy is directly related to what I saw growing up in Jordan. Since Jordan is a refugee-hosting country, I witnessed from a young age what refugees face after their displacement. And aid from the government and international governmental organizations were not adequate to provide the most basic necessities, so I thought philanthropy could be one way to help refugees specifically, or make social change in general.

Aside from my academic interests, I’m interested in philosophy and religion. I became interested in religion when I moved to Jordan and saw that almost everyone around me was a devout Muslim. This shocked me because the concept of God and religion that I knew back then was the one practiced in Japan, which is only relevant for celebrations and funerals. From there, I became interested in how beliefs can be so different. For a long time, I couldn’t come up with an answer. But, one day, I came across a book by Frederick Nietzsche that addressed these questions. Since then, I have been interested in philosophy.

Life here at Discovery is relaxed, but at the same time exciting. My friends are from different parts of the world so their distinct personalities and character surprise me almost everyday. Between classes, students gather in the G-lounge, in the building where most of our classes are, and spend time chatting or studying. I like the lounge because I can talk to interesting people about topics that I don’t usually get the opportunity to discuss.

My message to future GDP students is that GDP is a place where you can truly discuss your wildest ideas with not only fellow classmates, but also with professors. GDP students come from different parts of the world and bring with them their diverse backgrounds, whether cultural or intellectual, making it a place where you can find people who have had similar experiences to you. If you’re someone like me and not sure of your identity, GDP is a place where you can be yourself.

Mikina

Joined GDP in October, 2019

I was born in a small town in Shizuoka, and moved to Bangkok, Thailand when I was 4 years old. I spent most of my childhood there. I was a shy kid who never spoke in class. When I was a child, I used to do a variety of after-school activities, such as swimming, piano, and volleyball. Although I’m Japanese, I’ve spent most of my life outside of Japan, so Japan was a fun place to travel with good foods and technologies. Now that I’m actually living here by myself, it feels more like home.

My interests are technology and art. I believe that both areas are important to help us shape our ideas and create new products that can enrich our lives. Since my interests lie in technology, I thought programming was an important basic skill. I’m actually taking the Matching Track, and most of my classes are from the faculty of engineering. I’ve been studying maths and programming there in Japanese.

When I first joined GDP, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to study. What is special about GDP is that we can take classes from different clusters within GDP and also from different faculties. Therefore, I was able to try different areas of study, which helped me to know what I was really interested in. After graduating from Okayama University, I’d like to get a job at a Japanese company, and, in the future, I’d like to work outside of Japan as a transferee like my father.

Having a student life in GDP is like studying abroad while in Japan, because I can communicate with students from all over the world and experience different cultures.

To all incoming students, welcome to GDP! I hope you can enjoy not only studying but also making new friends and having a fulfilling student life.

Lorentz

Joined GDP in October, 2019

I was born in Fukuoka, Japan. I was raised in Sweden until I was four and then moved to Tokyo. Growing up, I attended an international school, where I was able to interact with students who had backgrounds that are different from mine. It gave me the opportunity to widen my perspectives about the world, such as issues regarding race and religion. Through interacting with different people, I got  a general understanding about issues such as the discrimination experienced by African Americans. Learning further at university made me even more interested in those issues.

When I started GDP, I was studying for a teaching certificate, but I lost interest as time passed. In my second year, I was able to find interest in anthropology of the self and cyberspace. Due to GDP’s open curriculum, I have also had the chance to study Literature, including African American Literature, one of the interests I had before entering GDP.

It’s a great opportunity to learn about the world through meeting international students. They all have unique backgrounds and give a new perspective to widen how you see the world. Not just the students, but also the courses  offered at GDP have the potential to spark new interests to pursue in the future!

It might be a new environment with all kinds of people, but I’m sure they are all nice and would be willing to support you to further engage in your studies.

Kokoro

Joined GDP in October, 2017

I was born in Osaka, Japan and raised in Japan and the United States. I spent 12 years in Japan and 6 years in the United States. My family moved around a lot because of my father’s job, and it was hard for me to get used to living in different places. It totally changed my life. When I was in Japan, I had only a limited perspective. However, I met many people from different countries and experienced many different cultures during my childhood. I enjoy meeting people from different countries because it helps me gain a different perspective. Thanks to my life experience, I can consider different points of view when I have a problem. .

I was interested in science, and I wanted to be a vet when I was younger, but when I moved to the US, I became more interested in history and language. When I started volunteering during high school, I became interested in volunteer work. I had a great experience so I wanted to learn more about nonprofit organizations. I am currently studying nonprofit management and politics.

GDP is the only university in Japan that offers a nonprofit management major at undergraduate level and I have learned a lot during my time here. I experienced reverse culture shock when I was a freshman so I didn’t really interact with people. After a while, it became fun! I hung out with people and learned many things from different majors. In the future I plan to go back to Hawaii and work in a place where I can help both Hawaii and Japan.

Students who have a similar background to me and can understand both English and Japanese should not be scared to take classes in Japanese if they find interesting classes. GDP gives students a lot of opportunities, so students should use those opportunities to discover what they want to do in the future.