There are numerous worlds out there that I don’t know yet
Became an exchange student to learn English literature
My destination for exchange program is University of Sheffield in England. One of the reasons I joined ICU was to take part in the exchange program. And, I thought it was meaningless to just limit my exchange program to learning of English and had been thinking of going somewhere where I can deepen my major subject, which is literature. Initially, I was thinking of going to the United States for my exchange program, but after listening to the lectures of Senior Associate Professor Christopher Simons E.J. on the history of English literature and Shakespeare, my interest in English literature grew further and decided on England as my destination.
The University of Sheffield is a comprehensive university in England offering a wide range of classes, and it offers a really fantastic environment not only covering the entire literature genre but also comedy, tragic drama and even movies. What I focused in my studying was the literature from the Renaissance period including Shakespeare as well as post- Renaissance literature, and I remember having lots of assignments. A task will be given to "read this much by day after tomorrow's class," and that would be lots of pages and I struggled. If you don't read it, you won't be able to participate in the discussions in the next class. So, I had to read it somehow and spend holed up in the library that was open 24 hours. On an average, I would have read a book of 300 to 400 pages a week. I think in Japan, you won't be reading to this extent.
There are interesting literature worlds about which I don't know yet
Minority literature including black and slave literature, which you don't get many chances to learn in Japan, was taken up during the classes many times, which left an impression in me. Till then, I was under the impression that the elegance of the sentences was a precondition for literature. But, when you look at black literature, many were written by people who till then couldn't write but finally reached a stage where they could, and though not refined, it depicted the English culture as seen from the eyes of the black people of the time. I felt that I have newly realized a world and perspective that I didn't know and became deeply interested.
Major achievements of my exchange program were that the field in which I was interested spread in various directions, and I began thinking I should learn literature more. Before I left for my exchange program, I was interested only in Shakespeare's drama, etc., but now I find literature outside of the mainstream and genre known as Gothic, including Frankenstein and Dracula, interesting. This is largely because I came in contact with minority literature in my classes. Also, during my stay, I had a graduate student researching Gothic literature as a tutor and in conversations with her. I felt that there are many more interesting literature worlds out there. Before I went for the exchange program, I was thinking of getting a job after graduation, but as the time passed I began thinking my learning and research were not sufficient and now I'm thinking of going for graduate studies in England.
Studying abroad will nurture the tolerance needed going forward
Studying abroad is different from travelling in the sense that you spend a certain amount of time in a different cultural environment, which I feel is something only a college student can experience. By actually studying abroad, I realized that there are many more things in this world that I did not know than I had anticipated and I also learned the enjoyment in viewing various things from different viewpoints. Also, by living in a different cultural environment, there were times when I noticed the prejudices that were cultivated in my mind without realizing it.
The society of the future will become one where diverse values are going to coexist more than ever. What is necessary then is that, instead of dreading what you don't know, you should try to know it and have the tolerance to accept differing values. Studying abroad gives you numerous opportunities to see many things from a new angle. So, this experience will definitely nurture tolerance and please take on that challenge.