I first discovered the double degree program and the GPPN while researching masters programs. The opportunity to complete two degrees in two years in two countries seemed too wonderful to miss. I applied to GraSPP with the plan to apply for the LSE in my second year. After spending my first year falling in love with Tokyo, it was difficult to keep my commitment to go to the LSE; looking back, I have nothing to regret.
I spent the months leading up to my move to London brimming with questions about what to expect. While having an international experience, I had never visited London, and had heard from previous students that the LSE would be an intense academic experience.
My first surprise at the LSE was the immensity of course offerings. In the second year of the MPA, students are able to select not only from courses within the School of Public Policy, but from any of the hundreds of graduate courses offered at the LSE. Overwhelmed with the immense list, I spent hours attempting to narrow down to my top choices. Ultimately, I chose courses on social impact, public administration, feminist economics, and behavioral economics.
True to what I had heard, I experienced a highly rigorous academic year, facing material I had never interacted with before and diving deeper into issues I long thought I understood. I was challenged on assumptions and gained exposure to contemporary theory and applications which I plan to incorporate into my career. Long hours in the library pushed me to new academic limits; the MPA, particularly the second semester, genuinely felt like a full-time job.
A highlight of the second year in the MPA is the Capstone project, a year-long group student consulting project. I was assigned to a project with the NHS (the UK’s national health service) relating to digital healthcare. This precisely aligned with my research interests, and I was elated for the chance to gain practical insight into the strengths and challenges of digital transformations in health systems.
As a world-renowned institution, the LSE attracts an exceptional lineup of speakers. On most evenings throughout the year, the LSE hosts a speaker or discussion which promises to engage cutting edge perspectives on the world’s most pressing issues. A nearly inexhaustible amount of career services at the LSE supports a successful move towards future ambitions. I found myself frequenting the LSE Careers website for interview preparation, reviews of application materials, and events.
One striking feature of the MPA program is its sense of community. A student-run organization hosts frequent events, making it possible to meet everyone in the nearly 200 student cohort. As a double degree student, I felt apprehension before my move on joining a cohort that have shared a year together prior to my arrival. It took no more than a week to meet valuable friends & colleagues.
The administrative teams at GraSPP and the LSE were highly supportive through the moving process (connecting me to resources on visa applications and moving), facilitating a smooth transition from Tokyo to London. Over the two years, I was able to gain a diverse and innovative educational experience. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to pursue the double degree program.