留学生インタビュー

Why did you want to study in Japan?

I am majoring in Japanese Language and Literature in the Division of Foreign Languages and Literature at Korea University. I started wanting to go to a Japanese university while studying at my university. The Division of Foreign Languages and Literature has a system called "1+7." Under this system, we are supposed to spend one semester out of the eight that we are enrolled studying at an overseas university. I, of course, chose to study in Japan.

How did you become interested in Japan and
the Japanese culture?

In South Korea, we select a second foreign language to study in high school in addition to English. I chose Japanese. Japanese language and culture were very popular at the time because the liberalization of Japanese culture took place in South Korea at around then, and it was the period when it became possible for everyone to come into contact with Japanese culture. I naturally became interested in Japan, too. I also had a chance to visit Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto when I was in 10th grade under a short-term training program. I experienced staying with a Japanese host family and had an opportunity to interact with Japanese high school students. I had a wonderful time, and I came to like Japan. I could not speak Japanese very well back then, and it made me want to study Japanese more.

What kind of procedures did you undergo before
coming to Japan to study?

They started accepting applications in August of my sophomore year from those desiring to study overseas, and I expressed a wish to study at Waseda University. This was because a friend of mine from high school was studying at Waseda University's School of Education, and I had heard from my friend that there are all sorts of people at Waseda University and it is a fun university. I then submitted a research plan, took an oral exam, etc. and the selection of the university was completed in October. I received the notice of consent from Waseda University in November, and I came to Japan in late March. What I found difficult in preparing for studying in Japan was to pass Level 1 of the Japanese Proficiency Test in advance, which was a condition for studying in Japan. In the beginning, I found it hard to motivate myself to study. Seeing this, my mother took me on a three day trip to Kyushu and I visited Fukuoka and Nagasaki. It was a very enjoyable trip, and it made me like Japan even better. More importantly, I was happy that people understood my Japanese, and it encouraged me to study. I was able to pass Level 1 when I was a freshman at university.

How are you studying at Waseda University?

I am taking a total of about 12 classes with Japanese students during my year here. They are primarily classes at the School of Letters, Arts and Sciences, such as Introduction to Literature and Modern Literature. However, I am also taking classes like Asian Economic History and Financial Theory from the School of Political Science and Economics through the audit system of other university schools. In the Literary Exercises class, we are studying as a small class of about 30 people with "Kanji (Chinese characters)" as the theme. The classes are all in Japanese, but I can understand between 70 and 80 percent of what is being said. I recently took first semester exams with the Japanese students and also submitted a paper. Being my first time, I found it quite hard. The professors are all very kind. If I asked a question, they would sometimes explain it to me at their office with great care. I am envious of Japanese students because it feels like they are able to enjoy their student life freely, participating in various activities besides studying. Perhaps it is because university grades in Japan are based on absolute evaluation whereas in Korea, grades are relative evaluation. Students can’t help but compete against each other in the case of relative evaluation. Also, in Korea, participation in volunteer activities is compulsory, and it takes up some of our time.

How are you interacting with Japanese people?

I am participating in the university's English circle. I joined because you can make friends by talking with people. I also wanted to maintain my English skills while in Japan. I enjoy interacting with friends from the circle, talking in English, going on training camps, and so on. I also participated in the university's Home Visit Program. I had an enjoyable experience spending a Sunday at a Japanese home, eating a meal and talking with the married couple, going on walks, trying tea ceremony, etc.

How is life in Tokyo?
Have you experienced any problems?

I am living in the university dorm located very close to the school. In the beginning, I found it hard to have to do everything, like cook, clean or do laundry, myself. I also sometimes got lonely. However, I gradually got used to it, and now I have a good time cooking or having fun with friends from my dorm. There are foreign students from many different countries in my dorm. There is also a graduate student who takes care of us at the dorm, and we can consult with this student when in need. When I had a problem setting up the Internet connection in my room, this grad student helped me. I have not experienced any problems living in Tokyo. It is because I did a lot of advance research on the Internet about life in Japan and also because I have a Korean friend who has already spent two years at the same university who helps me with anything when necessary.

What is your future dream or goal?

After I return home and graduate, I would like to work at a company like a trading company that does business with Japan. I plan to start my job search activities when I go back to South Korea.

Do you have any advice for your juniors who are aiming to study in Japan?

A graduate student who has experience studying in the United States and is currently doing research at a Japanese graduate school as an exchange student told me, "Japan is an excellent country to study in." It is because life here is safe, and because it is an Asian country like South Korea, there is no stressful culture shock that you might experience in the West. I, too, am enjoying my life here as a foreign student and recommend coming to Japan to study. I think that before coming to Japan, you should plan things like what kind of classes you will take at the university, what kind of exchange programs you will participate in and where you want to visit in Japan. I think that by doing that you will be able to spend an even richer life as a foreign student.

Uploaded on 19th September 2008