Growing up in Asia, I have been asked several times why came back to the region as an exchange student after only a year and a half at Columbia University, and in particular, why Japan. As far as I am concerned, the answer is quite straightforward. Having been involved in various international exchange programs since college, I am always interested in exploiting different cultures around the world. In Japan, the ancient culture has been well preserved, along with the modernization of the society. The combination and contraction of traditional and modern facets of the country is so charming that I decide I have to experience it myself. In addition, as the growth engine for international economy in the 21st century, Asia has been drawing much attention from the world. Having learnt about Chinese economy and politics in my undergraduate years, I believe it is quite beneficial to gain some insights from Japan, the most developed economy in the region. Especially, since majority of the discussions in academic and business world are about U.S. and China, I find it interesting to develop some thoughts of the comparison between Japan and China.
During my stay at the University of Tokyo, I not only learnt a lot from the coursework but also from my fellow students. I took two case studies, which help to build up the framework of Japanese economic reform since the bubble burst in the 1990s. And from the class discussion, I better understood what potential future policy makers in Japan were concerning about. For instance, given the fact that the Japanese society is aging over time, much discussion about the challenge in labor market and health care system was conducted in class. Besides, new idea on innovation and venture business development in Japan was another heating-up topic among the students. Considering the unique culture and social context in Japan, the approach taken by the students here differs a lot from experience of other countries. Hence, my understanding of the problems in current Japanese society is deepened-or even refreshed-after hearing the voice from the natives in the country.
Beyond the schoolwork, life in Japan is a lot of fun for international student. The volunteers introduced by the school are so patient to help with the language study and often offering useful advices on daily life in the city. In addition, my traveling around the country and the two-week home stay in Hokkaido showed me a vivid picture of local life outside the capital city of Tokyo.
All in all, I believe the one-year at Todai is a most precious experience for lifetime. And I highly recommended it to those whom are curious about Japan-or Asian society in general since one could always meet Asian students here-and considering building a future career in the booming market of Asia.