The reason I chose Japan as the destination for my study abroad was that in my first grade, I was able to take language, math and social studies classes together with Japanese students once a week at a school attended by the children of Japanese expatriates. Not only that, I was also able to learn the Japanese language and culture, having a lot of contact with Japanese people. But I realized that there were some things that could only be discovered by living in Japan, so I chose to study in Japan to deepen my understanding of the country.
My research at university is focused on “individuals” within international politics. I’m particularly interested in how individual experiences and differences in thinking affect international society. For example, are terrorists people with whom we have nothing in common? Needless to say, the acts they commit are atrocious. But the first step to dispelling misunderstandings is to find out what experiences and ways of thinking are behind their acts. I believe that the spirit of this research, that is the “desire to deepen understanding of others,” must be prioritized to create trust in human relations, regardless of national background.
My favorite place in Japan is Kyoto. On days when I don’t have school, I like to bicycle or walk on roads I’ve never taken before. That lets me find historical spots and shops I didn’t know about previously.
My dream for the future is to work in Japan and give the Japanese people who I’ll work with and serve a more positive impression of Americans. I’d also like to improve Americans’ impression of Japan by deepening my understanding of Japan and sharing it with other Americans.
My advice to people thinking about studying in Japan is that if you’re going to Japan to study, make lots of Japanese friends. Get to know not only other students but also other local residents. Based on my personal experiences, there are many opportunities to meet locals, like chatting with people at the shops you visit on a daily basis, volunteering, participating in an internship or getting a part-time job. In addition to these, I also went to church and a childcare facility for about a half a year.
Reprint of Feb 2018 issue of Japan Alumni eNews by JASSO: Japan Student Services Organization
NAME: Maria Pratt
UNIVERSITY: Ritsumeikan University
MAJOR: International Relation’s
PERIOD OF STAY IN JAPAN: April 2014 to present
JAPANESE PROFICIENCY LEVEL: Japanese Language Proficiency Test N1