Global Students and Faculty

  
Expanding Potential: determination
Ryota Saito, College of Liberal Arts, 4th year (at the time of interview)

Major in Sociology, minor in Business

Deciding to Challenge Yourself, Deciding to Grow

When choosing to enter ICU, an opportunity to grow

When choosing where to go to university, there were two reasons I chose ICU.

First, you don't have to choose your major when you first enter. When I was at prep school I had a lot of classmates who were deciding where to go to university based largely on divisions between humanities and sciences and what percentile they were in their class rankings. However, I didn't want to choose my university that way. The four years you spend at university are an extremely important time for your personal growth. It seemed to me that choosing from the academic divisions within the universities that accept you without thinking about what you want to study might restrict your opportunities. At the time, I wasn't able to say I wanted to spend four years studying in such-and-such a division at such-and-such a university, so when I heard that ICU doesn't make you choose your major when you first enter I thought it was an unparalleled chance to expand possibilities for myself.

The second reason was that I wanted to place myself in an international environment. Up through high school I had never lived or studied overseas. With globalization continuing in society today I wanted to address my personal uneasiness with the idea that if I didn't make changes in myself that I would be left behind by society.

Improving functional use of English

In the English Language Program (now the English for Liberal Arts Program) the preparation and review was extremely difficult and I studied until I thought I would collapse. In my section there were a lot of students who were Japanese but used to go to school overseas so it was difficult to speak up during discussions. But my hard work paid off and little by little I was able to join discussions and started to have confidence in my English. At the same time, depending on the class, I think I also started to look at things from different standpoints and developed critical thinking skills.

In the summer of my first year I joined the SEA Program for first-year students and studied at University College Dublin in Ireland. I had never had any experience living overseas, but since it was an intensive 6-week program and since there were a number of other ICU students there it wasn't stressful to participate in the program. We studied side by side with classmates from Spain, France, Germany, Russia and other countries. The most enjoyable thing for me was to be able to talk in English with students of other nationalities, plus I was able to become even more confident with my English. I couldn't have been happier when I came back to ICU and friends in my English class commented on how much I had improved.

Studying diverse subjects, then choosing sociology

I'm majoring in sociology. My father has his own business so when I first entered ICU I was interested in marketing and thought about majoring in business or something like that. But after I started taking courses at ICU I realized I wanted to know more about what influences people's behavior and started to become interested in sociology. In my second year Professor Yasuhiro Tanaka's class "Introduction to Cultural Studies" made a particular impression on me. We learned, "the structure of society has no small influence on people's behavior; people can only think about those things about which they have received some information." I remember starting to think about things differently after that because up until then I had taken for granted that I was deciding for myself about this or that thing. I wanted to learn more about how I fit in the structure of society so at the end of my second year I declared a major in sociology and continued my original interests through a minor in business.

Senior year at Ohio State University

I pushed my graduation back and starting from autumn of my senior year I studied for a full year at Ohio State University. Most students at ICU study abroad in their junior year, but at that point in my studies I wanted to be on campus and didn't think I would do any study abroad program. Then I saw my friends go one after another to study overseas and I wondered if it were really okay for me to pass up that chance. I thought I ought to challenge myself so that I don't regret having passed up the once-in-a-lifetime opportunities you have at university. I was worried about what a late graduation would mean when I finally started job hunting, but when I thought about being a part of society myself and displaying my strengths in society, I decided I would spend my senior year abroad because I needed more experience with other cultures and experience expressing who I am within the context of other cultures.

I chose Ohio State University because it's a large school with many opportunities to come in contact with diverse cultures and with well-regarded sociology and business programs. Studying, having class discussions, and doing homework together with the students there were all extremely tough, but I was resolved to work as hard as I could every day so that I could make the most of both my decision to spend my senior year overseas and also the important year of turning twenty years old. Coming into contact with people with diverse values allowed me to have experiences where I was able to reimagine the picture I had of my future.

Forcing yourself to grow, expanding possibilities

I found a job after graduation working at an IT startup. I want to be a person who is involved in resolving diverse issues that face society and the future. To do that, I have to put myself in places where I'm forced to grow so I chose to work at a relatively small startup. At a company this size there will be a lot of work and a lot of responsibility but I'm looking forward to working hard.

ICU provides an environment where each person can have his or her own individual experiences. For example, by taking in classes in subjects you know nothing about you're able to get new perspectives and by studying overseas you can learn about cultures, customs and values you never encountered before.

I encourage others to make use of new experiences at ICU to expand their possibilities.