Double-degree candidate from Taiwan shares her experiences in Japan

Making full use of time in Japan before returning to Taiwan

Li Wei
First year graduate student
Graduate School of Creative Science and Engineering

Earlier this year in March 2017, Li Wei from National Taiwan University arrived in Japan to pursue her graduate double-degree programme at Waseda University. Although she has travelled in Japan before, the idea of living in the country and studying at a Japanese university filled her with excitement and anxiety as she picked up her luggage at the airport and made her way to the university dormitory. Li Wei recalled experiencing home sickness and loneliness soon after arriving in Tokyo, but added that her school life at Waseda had been fruitful and enriching.

Waseda University Double Degree Programme is an study programme in which students can obtain two degrees (from Waseda and a partner university) upon graduation. As a general rule, the programme’s basic structure is based on the existing curriculum of both Waseda University and partner universities.

Li Wei and a male student who both came from National Taiwan University

Li Wei was on a short graduation trip in the Kansai region of Japan the first time she travelled to the country. She remembered being amazed and feeling astonished by the rich culture of the country and having the urge to want to know more about it. Accordingly to her, staff from Waseda University visited her high school every year for student recruitment. Partly because she had had little experience travelling overseas, Li Wei did not apply to study at Waseda University when she was a high school student. However, she decided to challenge herself at the time she was a graduate student of National Taiwan University after knowing that there was a joint double-degree programme between the two universities. Li Wei hoped that she would become more independent, and learn as much as possible not just in class but also through interacting with local Japanese people at Waseda University.

NTUの教会主催のイベント(筆者は右から4番目)

An event organized by a Taiwanese association. Li Wei is the fourth person from the left.

The double-degree programme candidate was learning about urban planning under Professor Haruhiko Goto of School of Creative Science and Engineering at Waseda. Her pick of research field was inspired by her professor back in National Taiwan University, who told Li Wei to think about design at large from various aspects. Although Taiwan has many gorgeous streetscapes, Li Wei felt that something was missing, which was the reason that drove her to come to Japan in order to learn deeper. As her double-degree programme at Waseda would only last for a year, Li Wei was motivated to make full use of her time here in Japan and learn as much as she could before returning to Taiwan.

Left: Li Wei and other international students on Mount Fuji
Right: Li Wei giving a presentation on the last day of a field study in Atami City

Things that surprised Li Wei in Japan

日本のことを教えてくれる研究室の仲間たち(筆者は中央)

Li Wei (centre) and her friends she met at Waseda

Li Wei recalled that she was surprised by how few Japanese people would give up their seats to others who needed more, even in the case of priority seats. She always had the idea that Japanese people were polite and well-mannered and decided to ask her Japanese friends why is that so. Accordingly to her friends, some Japanese might choose not to give up their seats in fear that it might offend the other party, suggesting he or she is old or plump. Assuming that this is true, Li Wei thinks that this is a very distinctive trait of Japanese people who are known for constantly displaying consideration for the others. In addition, she was also surprised at how customers at ramen and beef bowl restaurants would stare at her when she entered the restaurants by herself.

 

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