Global Students and Faculty

Kanako Shinohara, College of Liberal Arts, 4th year student (at the time of interview)

Major in Chemistry

A major system that allows you to find a field that you truly want to pursue

I had heard about ICU from my mother and knew about it since I started to become aware of university entrance exams. However, because my first choice was not ICU, I was not eager to apply there. What sparked my interest in ICU was what my mother said to me when I was deciding schools to apply to in earnest. I have liked Western music and foreign drama since I was little, and I was thinking that I wanted to learn English sometime, and she said to me, "ICU offers a solid English language education, and its study abroad program is robust."

So then I researched ICU, and I was drawn to its unique education, such as liberal arts and the major system. During the second and third years of high school, I suddenly began to think that chemistry, which was my weakest subject until then, was fun, and I was considering the pursuit of the sciences in college. Meanwhile, I was also interested in the humanities, and I was not sure that the sciences were right for me. Though at some national universities it is possible to decide the final area of specialization after enrollment, changing from the humanities to the sciences or vice versa is difficult. I thought that ICU, which provides time after enrollment to find a field that you truly want to pursue, was the most appropriate choice for the current me.

ELP*, where I cultivated approaches for learning in college

Upon enrolling and seeing fellow ICU students seriously dedicate themselves to their studies, I thought that ICU was just as or even more than I had expected. Since I had been thinking that I wanted to dedicate myself to my studies more so than before in college, having many highly motivated friends around made for an optimal academic environment. Though I had heard rumors of its toughness and had prepared myself, the ELP*, which was mandatory during the first year, was really difficult.

In high school, English was a subject in which I did well, but high school English and ICU English were nothing alike. Until high school, focus is placed on memorizing what is taught in class and answering test questions. However, in ELP, focus is placed not on memorizing English but on learning in English. It was common to read documents written in English, summarize one's views regarding the topic in question, and discuss them. Studying two to three hours every day outside of class, and even more than that when there were essay assignments, was imperative. Also, it was common to work together on assignments with section** mates, with whom one received daily instruction, and these mates were a source of support. Through ELP, I believe I was able to cultivate not only academic English skills, but also approaches for learning in college.

*ELP: English Language Program, which was offered through AY2011. Changed to ELA (English for Liberal Arts Program) in AY2012.
**Section: class of approximately twenty students who enroll in ELP or ELA together.

Departing Japan and deepening understanding of major field of study together with students from around the world

Though I believed that I wanted to work abroad in the future, I did not have experience living abroad. Therefore, I planned to definitely study abroad while at ICU from the time I enrolled. After studying abroad at The University of Edinburgh for six weeks through the Sophomore SEA Program during my second year, I studied abroad at the University of Iceland for one year during my third year.

I chose to study as an exchange student at the University of Iceland because it is strong in the sciences, to which my major belongs, and also because I thought that for my precious study abroad experience, a place with few students from Japan would be good. When I actually went there, in the classes I took, about three students were from Asia, including myself, and the rest were mainly from North America, Europe, and Iceland, just as I had expected. Furthermore, there was much discussion as well as group work in class, and there were many opportunities to talk with students from countries whom I would not have met had I not studied abroad in Iceland. Every day was stimulating and spent absorbing diverse viewpoints and values. In addition to learning Icelandic, the culture of Iceland, etc., I took courses on glaciology, volcanology, and geothermal power generation, which are fields peculiar to the geography of Iceland. In the glaciology course, I went on a field trip to observe actual glaciers; measured amounts of carbon dioxide and methane contained in glaciers as well as speeds at which glaciers melt; and analyzed levels of environmental pollution and global warming. I felt that I was applying fundamental knowledge such as chemistry and physics, which I had learned at ICU, and I was able to learn with very deep interest. Also, I was able to experience firsthand through daily life the facts that all energy demand is covered by only water power and terrestrial heat and that the tap water is said to be the cleanest in the world. In this way, I also experienced the significance of studying abroad, which goes beyond academic learning.

ICU provides an environment where you can challenge yourself
By studying abroad, I believe I was able to broaden my perspective and at the same time cultivate a readiness to challenge myself to try anything. Before studying abroad, there were times when I unintentionally created rules and limits for myself and did not try something new, but that has changed.

Initially, I thought about going on to graduate school following graduation. However, when I considered the purposes of going to graduate school and the purposes of entering the workforce, I concluded that it is important to first go out into the unfamiliar world and challenge myself and decided to work.

ICU provides opportunities to encounter what you truly want to do and an environment where you can become deeply engaged, such as: learning that defies the boundaries of English, study abroad, humanities/sciences; and many proactive students. Please enroll in ICU and experience this environment for yourself.