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東京大学公共政策大学院 | GraSPP / Graduate School of Public Policy | The university of Tokyo

Student Reports

Student Reports

CAMPUS Asia Exit Report

About two weeks ago, a coordinator at GraSPP asked me to submit a short report on the past two years and a half in the CAMPUS Asia program. It could be about my academic experience, cultural insights I had gained, or about the people with whom I got to interact through CAMPUS Asia program. All these three themes, as you can tell, were quite broad and I wasn’t sure where to start.

So, I referred back to the personal statement I had written for my CAMPUS Asia application and looked at what 2017 me was hoping to derive from this program. Apparently, I was quite ambitious. To borrow from my own words, I looked forward to “connecting and networking with people from different cultural backgrounds,” and to practicing “looking at issues from a contextualized perspective.” I also hoped to grow and gain practical cultural capitals, and, as a result, encounter with the new self.

Having completed my last semester of CAMPUS Asia this winter, now should be an appropriate moment to evaluate whether I was able to achieve the kind of personal feats I had aspired to. Participating in the CAMPUS Asia program entailed a continuous exposure to changes, and trying to adapt to those changes was a journey where not a day went by that I didn’t learn something. As I studied in three oddly similar, yet drastically different countries, I got to engage with scholars and students from all walks of life, including non-CAMPUS Asia classmates. They reminded me just how many intellectual people are out there in the world and how the ways of seeing and understanding may be just as manifold. Regardless of whether in Tokyo, Beijing, or in Seoul, I was rarely wanting in academically intriguing chats and thought-provoking moments. I can’t say for sure that I have fully internalized all those insights, ready to apply them whenever the need arises; however, I realize that having had such experiences on its own is an important asset for me. So, I am elated – and also relieved – to be able to say, yes, CAMPUS Asia did live up to my expectations.

In one way, however, the past two year and a half surpassed my expectations beyond measure: the quality and deepness of the friendships I was able to forge through CAMPUS Asia. Given the program’s short-term nature, where you go to school with different people essentially every semester, I was skeptical about the possibility of building relationships any more meaningful than acquaintances and networks. This surmise was quickly proved incorrect. On the contrary, living in an unfamiliar environment with an equally unfamiliar group of people turned out to be conducive to friendship. We were free from judgments, for we had little information, if any, about each other going in. We helped each other out whenever we could, for we – sometimes only – had each other to rely on. And, perhaps most importantly, we cherished our bonding time, for we knew those moments couldn’t last. Now, I have friends I can hit up whenever I need someone to lend an ear from in all three countries (I hope they feel the same as well!).

For this precious experience, I have staff members at each partner school to thank. Figuring out varying requirements, curriculum focus, and the yearly schedule of three different schools was a struggle; I can’t imagine what administering the process of exchange and providing necessary support to incoming and outgoing students must have been like. So, thank you for this valuable opportunity. I hope more students get to utilize the CAMPUS Asia program to fulfill their expectations and needs.

< pictures of the sky from where I lived in Tokyo, Beijing, and Seoul, respectively