Having travelled, studied and worked in a few countries, I thought I experienced diversity before joining the Master of Public Policy at the University of Tokyo. How wrong I was. Fast forward one year, I’ve studied topics from Behavioural Science to Machine Learning through International Relations and Environmental Economics, I’ve met and made friends with classmates from Australia, China, Costa Rica, Germany, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Nepal, Philippines, U.S., Singapore, and the list goes on. As I look forward to the next year, I want to share my experience, hoping it can help prospective students.
At first, I was not particularly interested in Japan. However, my perspective changed after I was sent to Tokyo for training by a Japanese bank I worked for back in Europe. After the initial visit, Japan got my utmost attention. Further visits always led me to want to know more, until I decided to move there permanently. Life in Japan is always surprising and there are millions of enjoyable things to discover if you are curious and open-minded. Aside from University, the past year has been an inspirational culinary journey for me as Japan offers one of the most diverse food scenes in the world. Irrespective of your cultural background, I believe Japan is an intriguing society from which a lot can be learnt, and it will without a doubt broaden your perspectives. I think this is valuable to grow as a person, particularly if you plan to be involved in policy making.
Why the University of Tokyo?
The University of Tokyo is one of the top Japanese universities and knowledgeable and recognized Japanese scholars, practitioners and public sector officials teach most courses. During my last semester, I attended classes taught by professors from the Bank of Japan, Ministry of Economy Trade and Industry, Asian Development Bank, International Energy Agency, etc. The University network opens the doors of many interesting local and international events. I attended a two day JICA-IMF seminar, many of my classmates joined a policy challenge in London and others traveled to Europe and Washington D.C. touring international institutions. In addition, as a student of the University of Tokyo, I can access classes from all graduate schools, so I was able to pursue knowledge out from my discipline. I would recommend new students to make the most of their time here and explore new topics of interest. I have been particularly enjoying classes from the Graduate School of Economics such as Quantitative Macroeconomics and Data Science.
I originally come from a technical background. Having studied and worked in finance for years, I was interested in building knowledge in social sciences. At the MPP/IP I found a perfect balance between technical topics and policy driven ones. The community is diverse with students freshly out of Bachelor and mid-career professionals from the public sector in Asia. This environment is unique to the MPP/IP and it creates valuable interactions between students, especially during group projects. I particularly enjoyed working on concrete policy issues related to South-East Asia with Indonesian friends, leading me to intern in Jakarta. In addition, the program is globally competitive and students can study abroad for a semester or pursue a double-degree in other top policy schools in the world. I will be joining UCLA for an exchange next year, and it is not uncommon to meet students who will visit other Asian universities during their time with GraSPP through CAMPUS Asia, building a true regional expertise. Lastly, I found it very interesting as a European student to learn about public policy from a Japanese perspective and more broadly Asia, as it brings new dimensions to the topic.
I hope my experience in Japan inspires you to explore this country and pursue a public policy degree at The University of Tokyo!