One day, my Japanese Campus Asia friend asked me why Koreans give out so many things as presents. At first, I did not know what she meant, but she kept on explaining and said that she spotted that many Korean friends bring souvenirs when they go somewhere travel or visit. She told me that Japanese do not bring many souvenirs or snacks especially when they visit the same country twice. However, she explained wherever Korean friends go, they always bring something for other friends. I thought it was very cute and funny to be caught from my foreign friend’s eyes, because as a Korean, I did not know how special that culture of ours was. I explained to her about Korea’s ‘Jung(情)’ culture, telling Koreans express ‘Jung’ to show that they care about each other. My friend said Japan might have that Kanji, but she has never heard of that usage. She gradually understood the meaning of ‘Jung’ as we spent time together for almost two years.
Japan is the closest country from Korea, yet we have so many differences in culture, political systems, and national identities. Although Japan and Korea have a long history to reconcile and solve, I personally was looking forward to studying at Tokyo University due to its prestigious reputation of education, scholars, and students. Also, since I never lived in Japan before, I was excited to have a new opportunity to live in another environment. University of Tokyo was full of diversity and multi-culture. Everyone came from different backgrounds; countries, ages, and fields of expertise. Each one of them had their own potentials and strength, and I could develop sanguine outlooks by simply connecting with them.
Tokyo has given me many opportunities to build networks all around the world, participate in international conferences, and broaden my career options. If I want more information and experiences, they are all waiting for you to grab the chances. Although I came to Japan to study, I earned much more than just knowledge. I was able to take classes with bright and passionate scholars, and they broadened my outlook and motivated me to plan ahead for my future.
Most of friends I met in Seoul, Beijing and Tokyo have either already graduated and working, or still studying and figuring out what to do in the future. I had Campus Asia reunions in three cities. I did not meet the same people every time, but because we have a huge connection called Campus Asia, we can meet anywhere, be friends with anyone and still welcome each other like old friends. I am still not a professional regarding to East Asian issues, or international relations, but my passion is second to none. Campus Asia has given me valuable friends and life time experiences, and I will be working harder to achieve my dreams.