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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

My experiences at the Campus Asia International Summer School in Seoul

Mina Eto


I was very fortunate to be part of the group visiting South Korea. Before the announcement of the summer school caught my attention in the elevator in GraSPP, I had never imagined that I would have my first chance to study in South Korea this summer. Now, looking back, I am very happy to say that the CAMPUS Asia Summer School in South Korea was a most valuable and memorable experience for someone like me who will be graduating from GraSPP this fall.

Two weeks was, of course, hardly long enough to learn everything about the Korean Peninsula or its place in East Asia, but I greatly enjoyed my stay in Seoul. It was as if, in that short space of time, I were actually on full-time exchange or really a Seoul National University (SNU) student. Our classes were taught by professors from SNU, Peking University and Tokyo University and we enjoyed a very full activity schedule, with a Seoul City Tour, a trip to the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea, a weekend excursion around Seoul city and gatherings with local students. It was a very pleasant experience from every perspective.

SNU, with all its modern facilities, though located in an urbanized capital city, has an extremely large campus surrounded by forest parkland and mountains. The on-campus accommodation where we stayed offered well-organized service, which assured that our stay was memorable and comfortable. Studying, eating and living together with other students was an exciting experience, one that we are not accustomed to in GraSPP. SNU has stylish cafeterias on campus, so we were able to enjoy delicious Korean food at cheap prices every day, while lovely cafes scattered in and around the university serve delicious cakes and coffee. The Graduate School of International Studies (GSIS), where we had our classes, is a truly international institution. GSIS has a large group of international students that come from all over the world and many students speak more than three languages. More than 70 students attended the summer school. Even though classes were conducted in a spacious lecture hall, we could have active discussion and Q&A sessions.

In class, we saw different Professors every day. In just two weeks, we learned a lot about politics, economy, and society in East Asia. It was a fresh first-time experience for an individual like me to learn exclusively about East Asia. In particular, our classes focused on “Hallyu” (the export of Korean cultural products, such as K-Pop, movies and games), Korean Peninsula studies and Chinese public opinion toward Japan, all very interesting because these topics covered ongoing issues and events facing the East Asian region today. In addition, on the very last day of the summer school, we had a trip to the Demilitarized Zone with briefings from South Korean and U.S. military personnel. By witnessing the “scene on the ground” at a major flashpoint location in East Asia, we enriched our understanding of what we had learnt during the summer school. Listening to accounts directly from people involved on the scene helped us better understand the overall situation.

I truly appreciate my two-week summer school experience. Through the program, I got a deeper and wider understanding of the East Asian region and an experience of living in Seoul mingling with the lives of Korean people. The summer school made me aware of the importance of seeing things with my own eyes and having real conversations with people instead of just relying on the handy information available on the Internet, though the media or on TV. I recommend this program to all students, including those who have not majored in East Asian Studies. The program offers you not only a chance to learn about the region but also an international academic experience in a totally new environment, which will widen your interest and enlarge your future opportunities.