Living & Learning: Japanese students overseas / Challenging my inferiority complex

Courtesy of Ayaka Naota

Ayaka Naota, right, with her friends

By Ayaka Naota (University of London)This column features reports by Japanese students currently studying overseas on their lives on and off campus.

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My time at Royal Holloway, University of London, has been enriching. It has given me the confidence to hold my own and accept others. Connecting with people from all over the world is a real opportunity for me to widen my perspective and leads to a more open world.

When I was thirteen, I moved to Cambridge in England for one year. Being in a completely foreign environment for the first time, I felt incompetent at school for not being able to talk with friends nor in classes. This experience prompted a sense of inferiority around foreign people, which grew inside me. So, I decided to study abroad to confront my difficulties and get over my negative thoughts of cultural differences and loss of confidence.

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  • The Yomiuri Shimbun

I chose Royal Holloway for several reasons: beautiful campus, diverse communities and, most of all, high academic satisfaction. My major is Politics and International Relations (PIR), in which new topics and research are always being produced. The PIR society offers open lectures weekly for both professors and students to share research and perspectives. What I really like about this is that students can freely ask questions and debate with professors without any hesitation, as if they were at the same level.

Even though I have my own ideas, I used to hesitate to speak up because I was afraid of making mistakes, which is fatal for politics students as we have debates on a daily basis. Therefore, such academic events greatly help me in gaining knowledge and practicing speaking in front of people whether my English is correct or not.

Also, I became friends with lovely people who taught me to accept myself. We gossiped, studied and discussed a lot. The more we spent time together the more they made me forget that I had my inferiority complex and feel comfortable without faking it. One of my friends once told me that she likes the way that I do not try to hide any of the differences in culture and perspectives between Europe and Japan. Now, I do not have any hesitation to speak up, nor am I negative about being different.

Stepping out of my comfort zone can be a hardship and often requires a lot of effort. But I always find some clues along the way that help me achieve my goal, which is to be confident of who I am. It is such a pleasure to be a part of Royal Holloway as it encourages me to have confidence and accept myself through confronting many difficulties.

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University of London

The University of London was established by Royal Charter in 1836, and is the third oldest university in England. Today the university is composed of 18 independent member institutions. Notable alumni include Aung San Suu Kyi.

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