Center for International EducationWaseda University

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From the Dean

Prof. Toru Shinoda Dean of Center for International Education

Prof. Toru SHINODA
Dean of Center for International Education

Life is an adventure

A long time ago, I happened to take a flight from the west coast of the U.S. to Japan, which returned to the airport it departed from because the altimeter was not working properly. As there was only one flight per day, I had to stay at a hotel the airline company prepared for us that night. In the bus from the airport to the hotel, a salesperson sitting next to me suddenly whispered, “Life is an adventure.” He acted like nothing serious happened, and even seemed to be enjoying the unexpected travel. Having such state of mind under such situation was both unbelievable and impossible for me, as I was from a country where 30 seconds of delay of the trains matter. As I become close to 60 years of age, however, I think I finally understand what those words mean.

Under the term “adventure,” the dictionary says something like “an unexpected event.” The reason we cannot expect that event to happen is probably that we human beings are foolish, and do not acknowledge our mistakes and mend our ways accordingly. The laws of nature and the truths of this world are difficult for an insignificant creature like us humans. This is why we have been trying for a long time to learn such laws and truths, which we call “science” or “philosophy.”

When we find or understand something, don’t we feel the sense of security and relief that the result was as expected, rather than the surprise and fear arising from encountering something that was totally unexpected? Yet don’t we feel, at the same time, that the experience of finding and understanding something new is more rewarding? I am sure you students share such feelings as well.

Studying abroad is the same. At first, you may have to spend every day in fear of strangers or unfamiliar places. You will, however, begin to feel safe, thinking that the strangers are also just people. You will, at the same time, feel grateful for those unexpected encounters and the opportunity to have met these people.

The fact that we can have others understand what we are saying means that others can understand what we have intended it to be. If you think about it, this is close to a miracle. It is not easy to laugh together with someone you have just met, and this is why communication is so difficult.

The origin of the word “adventure” is “miracle.” Foolish humans do not believe the laws of nature or truths of the world unless something like a miracle happens. You will find the things you learn from textbooks or from professors in classrooms difficult to understand; you will, however, deeply understand the laws and the truths from the bottom of your heart through such miraculous experiences. A study abroad is a unique opportunity for you to drastically grow both intellectually and spiritually through miraculous and unexpected experiences gained within a short but fulfilling period of time.

Prof. Toru SHINODA
Dean of Center for International Education

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