Students find challenges and rewards in Double Degree ProgramThu, Dec 15, 2016
Deepen expertise in your major as well as foreign language fluency
Want to prepare yourself for tackling global issues? The Double Degree Program may be for you
A graduation ceremony was held on December 2 for students who studied abroad between the academic year 2012-2014 in the Double Degree Program (DDP). A total of 28 students received their diplomas: 16 from Peking University, 11 from Fudan University, and 1 from National Taiwan University. These students have met graduation requirements for both Waseda University and their programs abroad, and Vice President Morita presented the students with their diplomas from their respective partner universities. Although most of the students are currently employed or conducting research at the graduate level, half of them were able to attend the event.
Professor Kazuo Kuroda, Graduate School of Asia-Pacific Studies and Dean of International Affairs, congratulated the students in the opening remarks. “I hope you will expand on your experiences in the DDP and as mentioned in Waseda’s founding principles, become global leaders who will make a difference in the world.”
In the reception joined by faculty and staff, Eisuke Taneda, who studied abroad at the National Taiwan University’s College of Management, gave a small speech sharing his views on the program. “I want to remember how I overcame the obstacles I faced in the program and continue to challenge myself without fearing failure.”
What is the Double Degree Program?
The DDP at Waseda University aims to construct greater understanding, ideologies, and opportunities through international academic exchanges in the Asia-Pacific region. In this educational program, students can obtain two degrees upon their graduation from both universities. The program is available for undergraduate and graduate students.
Eye-opening experience in the DDP
Discovering values and personal strengths through new encounters
Both Taneda and Kitayama became highly motivated to study abroad through new encounters after entering university.
“I just enjoyed studying English and liked it so much that I read the Harry Potter book in English,” said Taneda. Throughout junior high and high school, he had played with the idea of studying abroad. When applying to universities, Taneda chose Waseda because, as he recalls, Waseda had the largest number of partner institutions in Japan at the time.
Kitayama is a graduate of Waseda University Senior High School, an affiliate high school of the University. Kitayama enrolled at Waseda, where his two older brothers were already students, for its liberal atmosphere. He shyly revealed that the reason why he chose to major in physics at the School of Advanced Science and Engineering was because of “a TV drama.” An avid basketball player in high school, Kitayama was recommended the DDP by his former teacher there.
“Before, I was part of a group of people who were just like me. However, I met many people whose backgrounds were beyond my imagination in the DDP,” Taneda said. He mentioned that he was influenced by unique friends, from those who wanted to become accountants to those who aspiring to revitalize local economies.”
Kitayama, on the other hand, joined a mountaineering club for working adults off-campus. “Interacting with people of different generations was inspiring, and I became more open-minded.”
Taneda said, “I was initially interested in studying abroad in the United States, but at one point, I realized I had become close to many Taiwanese people. I felt it was fate, and that was when I learned of the DDP in partnership with National Taiwan University’s College of Management.” This was the summer of his second year, and Taneda only had 3 months to submit the Chinese proficiency test, a necessary document in the application. He frantically studied Chinese, and though accepted, Taneda continued to brush up on his Chinese skills through short-term Chinese language programs and tutorials for a year before studying in Taiwan.
Kitayama said that the DDP was the best study abroad option for him because he was also able to gain a high-level of expertise aside from language skills. He also mentioned that it was very natural for him to apply for the DDP because his friend from high school was also interested. Actually, Kitayama did not tell any of his friends about his plans to study abroad. Because his major at Peking University was international relations instead of the sciences, where double degree programs are available the most, many questioned Kitayama on what he did after his return.
Days of discouragement
At their study abroad destinations, Taneda and Kitayama both struggled in various situations, not to mention having communication problems due to language barriers.
Although he was confident speaking Chinese by the time he was in Beijing, Kitayama found himself unable to participate in class discussions because of his lack of knowledge in world history. “International relations is based on world history, and but until then, I had not studied it much. So, I studied world history again in China, in Japanese, with 4.5 hours of sleep a day.” Kitayama commented that students at Peking University, who were academically competitive and highly intelligent, were very dedicated to their studies. “Whenever a classroom was available, they would always be studying there. I couldn’t help but feel astound when they started talking about Chinese classics in daily conversations.” Furthermore, Kitayama felt cultural differences between Japan and China, where students tend to focus on a specific discipline such as sports or academics, when his peers asked him about taking part in club activities in high school.
Taneda’s major at the School of Commerce was statistics. Even though what he studied at the College of Management was more or less the same, he said, “I struggled a lot with mathematics. The students at Taiwan’s top university had the mathematics skills equivalent of those studying the sciences.” Moreover, Taneda observed that these students take everything very seriously and reflected on how he felt being surrounded by such well-rounded, talented students. “It was already a given to try hard, but even when playing sports or running an event, the students were full of energy and leadership. I felt discouraged often back then.”
Reaching goals, no matter what
Motivated by experiences in the Double Degree Program
Something Taneda and Kitayama have in common are that they have found their life goals in the DDP, and their experiences have become a motivation for them to pursue their dreams. Taneda aspires to give back to the Asian communities which have helped him along the way. “Studying abroad made me self-conscious of the fact that I am Japanese. Therefore, I could use Japanese technology and knowledge to contribute to the development of Asia and the world. I know that I am far from having enough experience now. I need to hone better work ethics, higher communication skills, and other necessary abilities, as well as learn from seniors whom I admire. Doing my best now will help me achieve my goals someday.”
Kitayama believes that technology can change the world. “Energy is one of the causes for international conflicts. Currently at graduate school, I am conducting research on nuclear fusion. If this can resolve energy-related issues, there wouldn’t be a reason for nations to quarrel.” Kitayama has even a bigger ambition. “Categorizing people based on race, nations, and ideologies can be convenient from time to time, but it can also lead to discrimination. This world would become a better place by eradicating missed opportunities based on discrimination, and technology is the key for solutions to related issues. I must quickly become a professional and create a position for myself to tackle the world’s problems.”
On the Double Degree Program
According to Kitayama, the DDP was the best and only choice for him. “Because my goal was to become a specialist in addition becoming fluent in a foreign language, I was able to gain so much by living in Beijing. I recommend Waseda students to take advantage of this program if they are considering to study abroad.”
“I realized the importance of facing challenges without fear, despite how difficult it may seem,” said Taneda. “You make it somehow, and when you do, the world becomes a different place. I hope that everyone learns about the DDP and similar programs available at Waseda because you’ll be accomplish things you thought were once impossible.”
Waseda University provides a rich academic environment for motivated students aspiring to make a difference in the world. We hope that Taneda and Kitayama, as well as the other graduates of the DDP, will become leaders who will contribute to the global society.