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Living & Learning: Japanese students overseas / British university students eager to learn

Courtesy of Karin Matsuzaki
Karin Matsuzaki, center, front row, with her college friends

By Karin Matsuzaki (University College London UPCH) / Special to The Japan NewsThis column features reports by Japanese students studying overseas about their life on and off campus.

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After half a year studying in London, I feel in awe of a place that is both old and new. While I am constantly aware of the past, with the vibrant history of London looming over every street, I am also aware of the future, in the ever-changing nature of human activity in this capital city.

In one seminar, students discussed historical incidents in their mother countries which exemplify a collective memory among the different generations. I stated the case of Yasukuni Shrine, and then some students proposed counter-arguments based on different understandings of history. I appreciate this diverse community, where 33 percent of students come from overseas.

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As I graduated from an ordinary Japanese high school, I am currently studying Human Geography and Economics in a foundation course of the University College London (UCL). This course aims to adapt international students to the British education system, where students concentrate on specialized subjects from when they are 16 years old. I chose UCL to pursue my academics because it offers a degree called Bachelor in Arts and Sciences (BASc), the city-center location and comparatively good ratio (1:10) between faculty and students. BASc students can explore both the fields of arts and humanities, and sciences. I hope to major in politics and minor in psychology, and share classes with those who purely major in each field.

I like the atmosphere of a British university, which values both arts and humanities, and science subjects. No one questions the practical values of studying literature, history or philosophy. At my favorite 24/7 library, I always see other students who are also eager to learn more.

Attending a public lecture is a nice option. Not only academics and public figures, but also students hold lectures. Once, the Islamic Society at UCL held a lecture on the situation of refugees, in which it welcomed Syrian refugees and representatives of humanitarian NGOs to share thoughts. I want to contribute to conflict resolution in the future, and so I reaffirm the value of learning here. Studying abroad can be risky, as there could be hardships and unexpected circumstances waiting for you, but I say, it’s worth it.

Founded in 1826, UCL became the first university in England to admit women as students on equal terms with men in 1878. Students from 150 countries study at UCL, making up more than one-third of the student body.

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University College London

Founded in 1826, UCL became the first university in England to admit women as students on equal terms with men in 1878. Students from 150 countries study at UCL, making up more than one-third of the student body.

In partnership with Ryugaku Fellowship

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