School of Culture, Media and SocietyWaseda University

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【JCulP】 Experiences and discoveries in daily life lead to a deeper understanding of Japanese culture

In JCulP, overseas students (OS) and Japanese students (JS) from diverse backgrounds all study together.

We asked three overseas students about their student life at Waseda.

Risa Tomioka (School of Culture, Media and Society, JCulP first year, Japan)

Arina Simonova (School of Culture, Media and Society, JCulP first year, Republic of Kazakhstan)

Seungmo Ahn (School of Culture, Media and Society, JCulP first year, Republic of Korea)

What’s it like living in Japan?

Risa: I was originally born in Tokyo, but have lived in the United States since I was four years old. I was thinking it would be good to study at a Japanese university and found out about JCulP. I decided to apply since it was a program for studying Japanese culture in English. Since JCulP is a brand-new program, I had some doubts about it when I was first thinking about it, but once I arrived, the fact that every student was in their first year together really helped promote teamwork. The teachers were also very friendly and engaged, and everybody really pulled together to get the program off the ground. In terms of daily life, I live with my mom and sister. I don’t have any particular difficulties. However, having been away from Japan for such a long time, every day I have the chance to learn new vocabulary in Japanese and get a sense of how things are done here.

Arina: I became interested in Japanese culture and language from around middle school. After I graduated from high school in Kazakhstan, I came to Japan and studied Japanese for 18 months at the Waseda Center for Japanese Language. After that, I decided to study at the newly established JCulP. Since Japan is safe and its people are kind, I haven’t had any difficult experiences since I started living here. Even strangers I meet on the street are always happy to help. Waseda University is in Tokyo, which is a very exciting city that offers so many opportunities for coming into contact with all kinds of cultures. In the near future, I hope to see kabuki and manzai performances.

Seungmo: I chose JCulP because my dream is to work in anime, so I wanted to learn Japanese culture while living in Tokyo. I lived in the United States for nine years until I graduated from elementary school, then I lived in Korea, so this is my first time living in Japan. Tokyo is quite similar to Seoul, but every day I still feel as though I am exposed to a new culture that I’ve never known before. Everyday things like going to restaurants or going shopping become experiences to learn more about Japanese culture. I also hope to visit places like Kyoto and Osaka to see more of Japan’s traditional arts and culture.

What’s it like living in the student dormitories?

Arina: I live in the Waseda International Student House (WISH) and it is really nice. Since this was the first time I have shared a living room and shower room, I was a little afraid before coming here. Once I moved in, I found that everything is so clean and the other residents are so nice, so I really had nothing at all to be worried about. The RAs (resident assistants) and Residence Life Center also offer a lot of support and have helped me open a bank account and get health insurance. WISH also holds events regularly, creating an easy environment for making friends with both Japanese and overseas students. I would definitely recommend living here.

Seungmo: I’m also living in WISH. It’s very safe thanks to the excellent security and it is convenient because I can reach the campus in just 30 minutes by taking a single subway. Another good thing about WISH is that it runs various SI (Social Intelligence) Programs where I can hone my problem-solving skills through group work and acquire deeper knowledge and a broader perspective by listening to various guest speakers.

Are you on any scholarships?

Seungmo: I get a scholarship from the Japan Student Services Organization (JASSO). Even though living in WISH is cheaper than living alone, there are various daily expenses, so this scholarship helps.

Arina: I also get a scholarship from JASSO. I hope to use some of it to watch a kabuki performance so I can learn more about Japanese culture.

Risa: I’m getting a scholarship from a local organization in Kentucky, where I used to live.

Are you participating in any circle or club activities?

Arina: I joined the Waseda International Festival dance circle. We performed in front of a large crowd at last year’s Waseda Sai and that was a really valuable experience for me. In these dance activities, I’m able to mingle with Japanese students, overseas students from various countries, and students from other departments. This also gives me the opportunity to increase my conversational Japanese vocabulary.

Risa: I’m interested in film and musical circles. I haven’t gotten the courage to join one yet since I’m still not confident in my Japanese ability. Also, when we overseas students arrived in September, the circles were not recruiting new members. I certainly intend to try in April when the circles will be asking new Japanese students to join.

Seungmo: In Korea, I played bass in a band with my friends. Since I haven’t brought my bass with me to Japan, I’m not actively participating, but I’m interested in the international band circle at Waseda. It might be fun to start a JCulP band with other students in JCulP. While studying hard, I also hope to enjoy Waseda’s campus life and life in Tokyo as much as I can.

Global Studies in Japanese Cultures Program

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