My experience at the University of Tokyo’s Graduate School for Public Policy has been very rewarding. Coming as an exchange student from Heidelberg University in Germany, I was expecting to spend only one semester in the program and in the city. It only took a month or two before I realized that five months was not enough to learn everything that I wanted from the city and the program, and I decided to stay for one year. I focussed my choice of classes on the topic of security in East Asia, and was able to learn from great professors like Professor Kiichi Fujiwara, Professor Yee Kuang Heng, and Professor Chiyuki Aoi among others, who are each leading scholars in their field. I gained insight into how Japan positions itself in the security architecture of the region and developed my research interest for my future career.
One of the best parts of GraSPP was the friendships that are built with fellow classmates. Becoming friends with people from all around the world allows for countless insightful discussions on the differences and similarities between our upbringings and worldviews. We also had a lot of fun exploring and discovering Japan together, and learned a lot about Japanese culture from friends who are either Japanese or have lived in the country for a long time. This year spent at GraSPP has allowed me to built a network of people that I will stay in touch with and who will be living all around the world.
I have also thoroughly enjoyed my daily life in Tokyo. Biking everyday to the university, I was able to experience different neighbourhoods of the city. From the Imperial Palace to the business district, from Ueno Park to Akihabara, Hongo Campus is close to important neighbourhoods that I enjoyed, all full of great restaurants and venues where one can relax with friends after class. The campus itself is very pleasant. GraSPP building offers great spaces to study, both for people who like to study in complete silence and for people who enjoy studying with friends.
My life in Tokyo was also made pleasant and easy thanks to the very helpful staff of the facutly, who were always ready to lend an ear to student difficulties and do their best to help them. There were also very interesting opportunities to push one’s interests further. For example, I was given the chance to participate in Tokyo University’s team at the Global University Challenge at the World Government Summit Conference in Dubai. This was a tremendously rewarding experience as we were able to attend conferences form high profile individuals on a wide variety of topics, and ourselves participate in a policy challenge. I also took part in the GraSPP Policy Challenge which was organized in junction with other university from the GPPN (Global Public Policy Network). It was a good opportunity to work on real policy challenges for the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.
Overall my experience of the program and the city was very positive and will remain in my memory. This year has given me a more in-depth look in the disciplines attached to public policy. I look forward to coming back to Tokyo in the future, either for work or leisure, to visit friends and continue the exploration of this great city.