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The University of British Columbia
Joining the Waseda Summer Session was one of the best decisions I’ve made this year. Looking back, the three weeks spent in Tokyo with Waseda peers were filled with activities, discoveries, fun, knowledge and above all, memories that will be cherished from the bottom of my heart. I came across this program via search engine while I was planning out my summer schedules back in January. After browsing through the syllabus and information available on the website, I noticed all classes in different disciplines were centered around elements of the local culture and society, which, combined with session field trips, provided an all-round understanding and experience of Japan that allowed us to learn in class and apply in real-life at the same time. The well-designed, locally based class content really sparked my interest in the program, and was one of the main factors that made me decide to apply. Not to mention Waseda as a top university in Japan channels in exclusive resources such as summer faculty from other prestigious universities and has diverse but equally outstanding student body, which further distinguishes the program apart from many other summer opportunities.
Classes at Waseda
Reflecting on the classes taken, I am glad that I chose Business II and Economics II as I had a great time with my classmates and professors. Professor Haghirian from Business introduced us to the Japanese firm structures with many Japanese company case studies explored. Towards the end of the class, we each produced a case study of a distinctive Japanese firm in groups. The final group activity enhanced our bond as we spent many hours in the library with a common goal to perfect the project, and the five group members all become really good friends. For class field trip we went to Haneda Chronogate to learn about its delivery service production chain. The trip was informative and served as a connected link between knowledge on paper and real-life.
For Economics class, Professor Widdows took us through the history of the Japanese retail scene and compared and analyzed different models of retailing as well as its strengths and weaknesses. She took the class to Yanaka for field trip as we strolled through one of the oldest neighborhoods in Tokyo, observing people’s shopping habits and shop characters. The class was very engaging as Professor Widdows constantly interacted with her students to hear their opinions and thoughts. I also befriended many peers from this class to which we’ve been keeping contact until this day. I really enjoyed this class in particular due to the interactive and lively atmosphere that enabled easy bonding and connection between the professor and the students as well as among the students themselves.
Nikko Field Trip
Other than in class field trips, we also had sessional field trips that are open to all of the participating students. The sessional field trips were a great opportunity to get to know more about other students and interns whom you might not have met before. In Nikko, we had tons of fun dressing up as samurais and ‘fighting’ with swords in Edo Wonderland. At night, we had a banquet of traditional Japanese kaiseki style meal altogether and enjoyed hot spring with my roommates. The Nikko excursion was a get away from the busy city life of Tokyo and experience another tranquil side of Japan.
Living in Tokyo
Speaking of Tokyo, my life in Tokyo was like a treasure hunt, you can find gems in the most expected and unexpected places. One of my favorite discoveries in Tokyo was a corner inside Tsukiji Market where the owner hanged up a few dozens of colorful paper cranes that swayed along with the wind. The streets just beside were busy, loud and vibrant, and yet with a turn into the corner, it’s a whole other world with colored paper cranes that reminded me of childhood. You can find other places in Tokyo that provided this kind of contrast, the work and life blends into the philosophy and vibe of the city.
Last but definitely not least, I have nothing other than enormous gratitude for all staffs and student interns involved in the program. From classes and field trips and the city, I gained first-hand knowledge and experience of the local society, but from the people, I gained precious friendships that can last for a life time. One of those people is Nanami, who was a student intern assisting in my economics class, she came to my city few days ago and we went out to hike together just like how we explored many places in Tokyo together. Living in a foreign city that speaks a foreign language can be scary, but because of all the amazing people that I’ve met, I was never alone in the journey. I take away from the program a more courageous heart and receptive mind thanks to all the positive people and experiences I’ve had at Waseda in the city of Tokyo. Thank you, Waseda.