Student Interviews

Mr. Evan Sankey

Mr. Evan Sankey

  • Boston, U.S.A
  • Department of Economics, School of Political Science and Economics
  • Exchange student from Northeastern University
Q. What made you want to come to Japan to study?
I grew up watching Japanese anime since I was little. I was particularly struck by Mach Go Go Go (the American title was Speed Racer), and I had always wanted to go to Japan. Three years ago, my father had the opportunity to go to Japan for work, and he told me it was a wonderful country. I started to think seriously about studying in Japan then. Northeastern University, where I am enrolled, had two Japanese partner universities, but Meiji University was more prestigious and had similar studies to what I was majoring in at Northeastern University. The fact that the campus was located in the center of Tokyo and easily accessible from anywhere was a huge attraction as well. Those are the reasons I chose Meiji University.

Q. What are you currently studying?
My major at Northeastern University is economics, so I am taking a class in Japanese economics. I am also taking classes on politics because I am currently on an exchange program at the School of Political Science and Economics. For example, in Professor Kenji Suzuki’s Japanese Social Systems Theory class, I am learning about the mechanisms of the Diet and elections, characteristics of Japanese political parties, and the structure of Japanese politics. In the class taught by Professor Kensaku Hogen, who is a former diplomat and served as Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and Japanese Ambassador to Canada, I am learning about Japanese diplomatic relations with other countries. How Japanese diplomatic policies changed from before the war to after the war, for example, is very interesting.

Q.What differences do you perceive between Japanese and American universities?
At universities in the United States, as soon as class is over, students leave and go their separate ways. However, in my academic adviser Professor Takumi Takeda’s class on Japanese economics—this may have something to do with the fact that the class is in the late afternoon—my classmates and I, along with the professor, often go and have dinner together. There is a family-like atmosphere. I have never experienced such a thing at my university in the United States. In the summer, my seminar will hold a weekend retreat at Yamanaka Lake and we also plan to climb Mt. Fuji.

Q. Where do you currently live?
I live at the Izumi International House for international students in Suginami Ward. I once went to study at a university in London for a month. I lived in central London then, but I did not really get a feel for what the average British lifestyle was. However, the Izumi International House is in a residential area, and I like that I can see every day, when I go shopping at the supermarket for example, what an average Japanese household’s daily life is like.

Q. What surprised you when you came to Japan?
This is the first time for me to come to Japan, so there were so many things that surprised me. One example is the excellence of the Japanese train system. American trains are dirty, slow, non-reliable, and very moody. On the other hand, Japanese trains are always on time, and the in-train service is excellent. When the Great East Japan Earthquake occurred, the actions of the victims, who acted in an orderly manner without panicking, was praised worldwide. Tokyo is always crowded wherever you go, but the streets are clean and everything is orderly. This was a huge surprise for me. I was also amazed to see how little children like 7-8 years old ride the trains by themselves and I felt how safe Japan was. In the United States, it is unthinkable for a little child to ride the trains alone.

Q. Tell us about your outlook for the future.
I have not decided on a future career yet, but I would like to go on to graduate school and study international affairs. I am also interested in participating in the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Programme and working in Japan as an English teacher.

Ms. Kim Hae In

Ms. Kim Hae In

Seoul, South Korea
Department of Local Programs and Development , Political Science and Economics

Q. What made you want to come to Japan to study?
When I was in elementary school, I became intrigued with the beauty of the round shape of hiragana. Then, during a trip from Korea to Fukuoka and Kobe by boat with my family, I was touched by the attentive service and kindness of the Japanese people and became interested in Japan. That was the reason I decided I wanted to study in Japan. Additionally, my hometown Ichon is known as the Japanese quarter in Seoul, so I was surrounded by Japanese food and Japanese entertainment information. I think that was the reason I acquired a strong affinity toward Japan. Meiji University is well known in Korea as well, and my parents and relatives recommended it to me. That was why I chose Meiji University.

Q. What are you currently studying?
Because my hometown is an area where there are more foreigners than in other parts of Korea, I want to be involved in work that helps support the lives of foreigners, who are still a minority in Korea. In the future, when I go back to my home country, I hope to work in administrative services as a civil servant. That is why I chose the Department of Local Governance, which is an unusual department at Korean universities. I am currently a senior, and I am in Professor Philip Zitowitz’s seminar, learning about American culture. I am planning to do a comparative study on the theme of multiculturalism seen in movies, comparing multiculturalism depicted in American movies in the 1960s and 1970s and multiculturalism today.

Q. What differences do you perceive in Japanese and Korean universities?
At Japanese universities, if you take a leave of absence, you need to pay the university a special fee. In Korea, however—perhaps influenced by military service—there is no special fee to pay for taking a leave of absence. Therefore, many students take leaves of absence to aggressively make efforts to overcome the tough employment situation, such as study at a language school overseas to master a foreign language, experience an internship overseas, or concentrate on studying for a qualification.

Q. Have you made many Japanese friends?
When I first enrolled at Meiji University, I was the only international student in my class. I had a lot of concerns such as living for the first time overseas away from my parents and about my Japanese language skills. But all of my Japanese classmates were so kind, and making friends I could rely on in Japan became a huge source of support for me in my life overseas. During long breaks, I visit the homes of classmates who are from other parts of Japan or invite my classmates to visit me at my home in Korea.


Q. Do you have any advice for students who are thinking about studying at Meiji University?
I am currently in three student circles: the baseball circle (as manager), volunteering circle, and international exchange circle. I think one of the good points about Japanese university is that you can actively engage not only in studies, but also in extracurricular activities with friends. I recommend that you have as many experiences as possible in which you can come into contact with Japanese people and Japanese culture.

Ms. Sung Seul A

Ms. Sung Seul A

South Korea
Department of Political Science, School of Political Science and Economics
Exchange student from Peking University
Q. What made you want to come to Japan to study?
I am currently enrolled at Peking University in China rather than a university in my home country Korea. I became close friends with a Japanese student there, and started becoming interested in Japan. I started to study Japanese on my own and then began to feel strongly that I wanted to learn Japanese properly. Looking up exchange programs between Peking University and universities in Japan, I learned about the exchange program with Meiji University and I thought that the program period of six months was also just right for me and applied.

Q. What are you currently studying?
I am studying political process theory, and I am in Professor Yumi Horikane’s seminar on East Asian politics. I was interested in politics to begin with, and I was studying it at Peking University as well. It is interesting to study politics from different perspectives depending on the country. Additionally, I experienced the seminar-style class for the first time in Japan, and I think that it is very good being able to study as I exchange opinions with my professors and fellow classmates.

Q. Did you have any concerns before coming to study in Japan?
I had some concerns about starting a new life, but all the Japanese people I knew were very kind and I didn’t have any major concerns. However, when I talked to my family about wanting to study in Japan, they were worried at first about earthquakes, which we do not have in Korea. I managed to persuade them nevertheless, and now they are very understanding and supportive of my life studying overseas.

Q. What differences do you perceive in Japanese and Chinese, or Korean universities?
Universities in Korea and Japan are mostly similar, but universities in China are a little different. First, universities in China are boarding schools and all the students live together in a dorm. The universities themselves are very large, and they are like a town on their own. Additionally, aside from their classes, students at Japanese universities have student circle activities and part-time jobs, but in Chinese universities, there are no official student circle activities and I think students spend more time studying than in Japan.

Q. Do you have any advice for students who are thinking about studying at Meiji University?
I am sure you will have some concerns about leading a new life abroad. I recommend that you make many new friends in your new country (i.e. Japan) while you are there. Then, you will be able to learn about Japanese culture and customs and will learn the language quickly. Also, if you are planning on a six-month overseas study program, you should properly confirm what classes are available in the first and second halves of the year when deciding when to go abroad.

Q. What are your dreams for the future?
I have not yet decided on a concrete path, but I hope to use my experience studying in China and Japan at an international job, such as at a non-governmental organization. Also, after having studied in Japan and coming into contact with the kindness of the Japanese people, I have added working in Japan as one of my choices.

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