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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

GraSPPers Voice

One book led me to the world of East Asia

Julia Haberl (from Austria)

Could you tell us about the story of your passion for East Asia?

Currently, I am a first-year Campus Asia student pursuing a double degree at Peking University.
It all started with a Chinese book I came across when I was 14 years old. I was fascinated by the Chinese characters (kanji) in that book, and with the advice and support of my parents and teachers, I began to study Chinese. On the recommendation of my Chinese tutor, I was awarded a Chinese Government Scholarship to study the Chinese stream of International Economics and Trade at Fudan University right after Austrian high school. I then studied Trade Management specifically aimed at Asia back in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, which brought me to Japan as an exchange student respectively to Hong Kong for six months internship back in 2019.

How did you decide to join GraSPP?

One reason I decided on pursuing a master’s degree is the prospect of working as a trade commissioner. Before joining GraSPP, I was working for a business consultancy in Frankfurt respectively at a marketing department of an internationally operating company headquartered in Switzerland. However, this was just temporary because I knew already from an early age that my future is in (East-)Asia.
Ever since I did an internship at the German Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong, having some truly illuminating talks, I believed that representing and promoting the Austrian economy worldwide would allow me to bridge my great passion for networking across borders with my background in trade.
Joining GraSPP was my first choice, not least because of the Campus Asia Program. Given my background, passion, and interest in those countries involved, I identified myself immediately with it and here I am.

I understand that you finally made it to Japan two months ago. How is your school life in Japan so far?

I would describe my student life at GraSPP and life in Tokyo in general as very diverse: People to meet, places to go, and opportunities to grasp. I am enjoying campus life a lot, taking as many in-person classes as possible, after all the struggles I’ve been through in the past six months taking courses from my home country and adjusting to the time difference.
So far, my personal highlight was the opportunity to do an internship at ADBI, supporting my supervisor in editing a publication on Social Safety Nets in Developing Asia, which was very thought-provoking beyond the scope of the internship.

What would you like to try while in GraSPP?

Since I am studying at Peking University from next semester, my remaining time at GraSPP is quite limited and I am happy to say that I managed to do what I was planning to, such as the ADBI internship and courses I absolutely wanted to take.
However, given the current circumstances, should I not be able to attend classes physically in China but stay in Tokyo instead and take courses online, I would be very intrigued to join the university’s baseball team as I did during my exchange semester at Sophia University (once in a lifetime experience which taught me so much more about cross-culture management and Japanese culture, than any university course could have ever taught me).

What is your plan after graduating?

Admittedly, every now and then I find myself confronted with the same question: After graduation, shall I return to the private economy, where a couple of concrete job offers are already waiting in my favorite corner of this world, or better follow my dream of a diplomatic career?
In any case, I believe that no matter whether in the private economy or working for the government, the knowledge, network, and experience acquired during my time in Japan, China, and Korea will stay with me forever.