Study Abroad, the First Step to an International Career
Preparing for Graduate School Overseas
In senior high school, I participated in a signature-collection campaign against nuclear weapons in which I met with victims of the atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki and also visited a UN organization to submit the signatures. This experience opened my eyes to work for world peace in an international organization. That meant I needed a master's degree at least; many international organization staff acquire one abroad. I knew this much in high school, but I had never studied or lived abroad. So I chose ICU because the university offered the optimum environment for me to reach my goal. In the exchange program, I chose to study at Guilford College in North Carolina, a liberal arts college with a small student body (around 2,000 students), an enrollment fewer than at ICU. The liberal traditions and education in small numbers made the college an ideal place to study peace.
Unique Experiences in Study Abroad
During my year stay, there were things I observed because I was there for an extended period of time. The first was the problem of poverty that I witnessed during my volunteer and field work. There were people without stable jobs, who could not afford insurance. Some had not been able to get back to where they had been when confronted with upheaval such as natural disasters. Homeless veterans were living on the streets, and some families were not able to eat healthy well-balanced meals due to lack of income. There were immigrants who were isolated from the rest of society. I had read about these people, but meeting them in person helped me develop empathy for them and changed my perspective.
While in the U.S., I met students from Europe, the Middle East, Asia, Central America and Africa. They offered stories about differing mores and views. Talking with friends whose countries were at war or experiencing internal conflict, I felt privileged to have grown up in a peaceful country like Japan. This environment strengthened my determination to work for an international organization. The reading and writing skills I learned at ICU helped me with the massive assignments for each class, but my reading speed was so slow at first that I had difficulty keeping up. Faculty at the Writing Center helped me with my writing assignments, and I was gradually able to follow the others in class.
We need to improve our English proficiency as much as we can in secondary school, then strive to use English for academic purposes in college and continue that effort while studying abroad.
Naturally Acquiring the Ability to Step Out into the World
ICU is a great environment for those aspiring to step out into the world. Many have global plans for the future, with the university offering ample opportunities for study abroad. Studying at ICU naturally trains you for an international career. The discussions and presentations in class cultivate the ability to integrate knowledge and communicate with others around the world. In high school I never dreamed of writing a lengthy thesis in English, let alone go abroad for graduate school. But I will be studying the political economy of conflict at School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), London University after I graduate from ICU.
If you are interested in studying abroad, come to ICU and grasp opportunities for a promising future.