I am a SIPA/GraSPP double degree student and I spent my second academic year at GraSPP. Previously educated in China and the U. S., this was my first time studying in Japan, and I entered GraSPP in September 2019 not knowing what to expect. It turned out to be one of the best decisions I made in my life. GraSPP has an incredibly diverse student body and each person I talked to has taught me something new. The professors and the administrative team were incredibly supportive, and the classes were extremely rewarding and intellectually stimulating. Tokyo is an amazing city with a lot to explore. Despite the short time I spent at GraSPP, I made lots of friends and valuable connections that I will treasure for life. Working as a coordinator for the Student Council and representing GraSPP at the 2020 GPPN Conference in London were the major highlights for me. I have 2 pieces of advice for my fellow GraSPP students:
1. Get out of your comfort zone and never miss out on any opportunity to learn and grow. Make valuable connections, attend as many events and activities as you can, make bold choices, and set aside time each week for conversations with new and old friends. Everything that feels apocalyptic now will be inconsequential in a few years; it’s important to get in a helicopter and look at yourself from far away—not to diminish your current problems, but to remember that life will go on after them.
2. Be yourself. Some may find it challenging to thrive in a culture that emphasizes hierarchy and prioritizes conformity over individuality and self-innovation, and I have experienced these struggles, particularly during the job-hunting process. I have consistently questioned myself whether I am good enough, whether I should change myself and bow to the pressure of conforming to societal expectations…But ultimately, I realized that I am who I am, and expressing myself in an open and honest way is my best option. It is okay to be different and it is okay to disagree. Take criticisms seriously but more importantly, trust your own judgments. Remember that you’re a valued individual with amazing credentials and qualities that will enable you to reach your unique potential.
I am beyond thankful for my experience at GraSPP and to everyone who has helped me or guided me through this journey. I will start working in Tokyo after I graduate, and I hope to be able to visit GraSPP often as an alumnus in the future.