Hello everyone. I am Pak Ji Soo, and I am studying in the first grade of the Faculty of Political Science and Economics, Waseda University. One year has flown by since my admission, and already I feel like I will be a senior student for new incoming students from April. It was the summer of the second grade in high school when I decided to go to university in Japan. Though I studied hiragana, katakana and writing after entering high school, I found it difficult to learn Japanese for the first six months. In those days, my class teacher recommended that I participate in a Japanese language speech contest to give me confidence. Later I realized the charm of the Japanese language in the process of preparing for the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT). Then I became interested in the Japanese language as well as the country of Japan. This interest grew stronger and I decided to try to enter university in Japan.
I started preparation for the Examination for Japanese University Admission for International Students (EJU) in the summer of my second grade. The EJU itself is similar to ordinary entrance examinations. Since I realized that it would be impossible to learn by myself the subjects of EJU such as the World and Japan, Science, Mathematics, writing, and so forth, I started going to a preparatory school specializing in EJU. In the reading comprehension, I tried to overcome my bad habit of making conjectures on my own and did exercises to help me think about the grounds for solving questions. As for the listening comprehension test, in order to correct my weakness in making mistakes in one or two questions, I tried to directly analyze the scripts of the questions I got wrong and categorized them by type, which was of great help to me. In writing, I spent more time learning to restructure expressions that would look unnatural when written in Japanese and tried to memorize the structure of characters. I checked grammar from the beginning, made original example sentences for writing texts and I tried to read editorials provided by the preparatory school every day and to memorize the vocabulary and expressions used in the Japanese editorial comments. In this way, I gradually realized how to take into consideration the structure and logic of scripts and I began to improve my writing ability. Moreover, it was clearly very helpful in preparing for reading comprehension and listening comprehension too.
As social sciences subjects are broad, I was concerned about whether I could master the full range of contents before the examination. The method I used was to create my own scripts. Copying the content in handwriting gave me time to think about the subject once again, and I could automatically clear things in my mind and grasp the main flow of the respective subjects. In mathematics, I solved past exam questions after memorizing expressions in Japanese and prepared error notebooks by type. These efforts were very helpful for me. This method afforded me opportunities to rethink and realize what I had missed. Later, I stared preparing for EJU administered in June 2011, in which I achieved satisfactory scores and won a JASSO scholarship.
There are two reasons why I wanted to enter Waseda University. The first one is that Waseda University fits my dream of becoming a researcher of economic policy. In fact, I wanted to study in a university where I could surely study two fields at the same time. Waseda University arranges curriculums in which every student has to take subjects in two fields, i.e. economics and politics. I thought this faculty would be the most appropriate one and useful to my career and therefore, decided to target it. The second reason was the large number of students in the university - there are more than fifty thousand students studying there at present! This number of students is the second largest in Japan, next to that of Nihon University. In addition, the number of international students studying in Waseda is four thousand, which is the biggest among Japanese private universities. I believed that I would be able to meet more people and learn more things from the people who come together in this university and I was sure that I would be stimulated to develop further. That is why I chose Waseda University where 50 thousand “student-teachers” could assist my growth. It is a place where I can determine my future career, search for my dream and benefit from many significant opportunities. I am confident that my enrollment at Waseda University will provide me the power to grow with the assistance of fifty thousand teachers!
When I first began studying in a foreign country, my body and soul were tired of leading a self-catering life and accepting so many cultural differences in this transition period. I was depressed and unsure whether I had made the right decision to come to study in Japan. It was painful for me to feel alienated from society just because of being a foreigner. However, the answer was lying within me. I had prejudice in my heart that they could not understand me as a foreigner. Once I realized my prejudice, the wall in my heart disappeared and I started talking more positively to Japanese friends. I joined a circle for learning Yosakoi, a Japanese traditional dance, and worked with friends, giving each other advice to learn a complete dance. I also learned the passion of expressing myself to other people. In fact, I enjoyed the dance as a performer, not merely as a member of the audience watching Japanese dance. I had good times with friends in the Xmas party and Nabe (Japanese hot pot cuisine) party at the end of the year. Talking together and looking back on the year, I felt my friends and my life here had become a significant part of my life.
At present, I am working part-time as a school campus tour guide. It is a heavy burden for me to guide Japanese guests around the campus in Japanese because I cannot speak Japanese perfectly. In the training I had to learn to correct my many mistakes. For example, the guides have to take into consideration the use of honorifics, the choice of vocabulary, and the nuances of Japanese. Moreover, it is a very difficult job requiring the capability to flexibly deal with sudden questions addressed by guests and any unexpected problems. At one stage, I thought I had taken on too much. But with repeated training, and my senior and buddy guides giving advice and encouragement, I was able to improve my presentation. Finally I made a debut as an official guide after completing almost two-months training at the end of last year. I found that working part-time in Japan is big challenge, just not to earn money, but to develop myself.
I sometimes regretted my choices, and wondered why I had taken on such a challenge of preparing to study and live in Japan as an international student. Although studying in Japan has been a major challenge for me day after day, the sense of achievement and satisfaction of overcoming each problem is a valuable experience that I could not have had in Korea. It has broadened my perspectives. Wherever you are, you have to be responsible for what you do. Now I know that my study in Japan will never be fruitless. Living in Japan made me feel what I had not felt before and made me interested in things I had never even considered while living in Korea. I contemplated more seriously about what I want to study more in Japan and how to live in future. Looking back at the past, I seemed to be like a frog sitting at the bottom of a well, and life in Japan has been a major turning point in my life that has helped me find my direction. I am really grateful for everything that provided me with these precious experiences. I believe what will happen every day to me will develop me further and I wish to be a bigger and better person in future.