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News » Two students on the GIGA Program were recently interviewed for the Keio University quarterly “Juku.”

March 7, 2012 – Two students on the GIGA Program were recently interviewed for the Keio University quarterly “Juku.” The English translation of the original Japanese article is provided below.

Learning in Japan Today

Interview with first international students on the Faculty of Environment and Information Studies’ GIGA Program

The fall of 2011 saw the start of a new initiative at Keio University’s Faculty of Environment and Information Studies. The GIGA Program allows students to earn enough credits for graduation through taking classes solely in English. Of the first group of international students who enrolled in September, we asked two, from Ukraine and Taiwan, for their thoughts on the appeal of studying abroad on GIGA.
(This article is a summarized version of the students’ answers, compiled by the “Juku” editorial department.)

The deciding factor to study abroad for me was the possibility to graduate only through English. The leading-edge ICT curriculum here was also an attraction.

Monika Nagashima

My father is Ukrainian and my mother is Japanese. I grew up in Moscow until the age of six, and then went to an international school in the Ukrainian capital, Kiev.
When it came time to choose a university, I was keen to study abroad in one of England, Canada or Japan. Although I was interested in Japan and had confidence in my spoken Japanese ability, I was unsure about taking specialist classes held in Japanese. It was then that my mother came across information about the GIGA Program on the Internet. Being able to graduate by taking classes all in English was very appealing, and I was well aware of the prestigious reputation of Keio University, making it my clear first choice.
The fact that the Faculty of Environment and Information Studies’ ICT curriculum is more advanced compared to many other universities was another big attraction for me. I was really impressed when I first saw the computer labs with their top quality equipment and learning environment.
Right now, I’m interested in biology, particularly from the perspective of neuroscience, although I’m not limiting myself to any specific area as I want to expand my intellectual horizons. In this sense, it’s great that the selection of classes at SFC is so flexible. I plan to take classes from many different areas over this year.
As well as the classes in English, there’s also a wide range of classes held in Japanese available to take, so I’m brushing up on my study of Kanji (Japanese writing system based on Chinese characters), which has always been my weak point. I’m already taking Professor Masaru Tomita’s biology class in Japanese, and while the technical terms sometimes confuse me, I’m really enjoying it.
When the Great East Japan Earthquake happened it was big news in Ukraine, and my friends and teachers at school were worried about me going to Japan. However, after researching online and speaking with Japanese people who I knew here, I decided that it was safe enough to come. Since I’ve been living here, I haven’t really felt any problems at all.
I’m thinking of working in Japan in the future, though I’m not really sure. In any case, whatever field I end up working in, I’m certain that I’ll make use of the ICT skills that I acquire at SFC in my job.

By acquiring the ability to “identify problems and find solutions,” I hope to help in the recovery of the north-eastern Japan region that I love.

Yu Chu

I was born in New Zealand and brought up in Taiwan, where, through the initiative of my father, who works in international trade, I started learning English from the age of four. Then, my Japanophile grandmother and mother suggested I should start learning Japanese at the same time, which I did. However, later on in high school, as I studied abroad in New Zealand, my English naturally became more fluent than my Japanese. While I had a high regard for Keio University, I had doubts about my Japanese ability, and thought that if I was going to study here I would do so from graduate school. So I was pleasantly surprised to find out that, thanks to the GIGA Program, I could pursue my studies at Keio as an undergraduate.
Of the various classes I’m taking, the most exciting for me are the “Exploring Environment and Information Studies” and “Exploring Policy Management”  in English, which provide me with all kinds of intellectual stimulation, and enable me to freely exchange opinions with other SFC students in a relaxed atmosphere. Central to this system is SFC’s educational philosophy of “identifying problems and finding solutions,” which encourages students to “identify problems through discussion together, and pool wisdom to find solutions.” This is the biggest appeal of SFC for me.
I have long been interested in environmental issues and would like to work as an environmental consultant in the future. At SFC, I am free to learn about a wide variety of areas, like economics and mathematics, in conjunction with my environmental studies, and I also hope to fuse this with ICT learning.

Since I was a child, I frequently came to Japan on trips with my Japan-loving family. Among the various places we visited, I developed a special fondness for the Tohoku (north-eastern) region, with its abundant nature and delicious food, in particular the areas of Sendai and Matsushima. Seeing the damage inflicted in the Tohoku region by last year’s Great East Japan Earthquake, and the suffering of the people there, really made my heart bleed. Now, I feel that we must demonstrate our “problem identification and solution” abilities, above all to pour our efforts into the region’s recovery. I may just be one international student, but I hope I can be of help to the Tohoku that I love.
(Yu Chu is the recipient of the Akira – Keio SFC Social Innovation Scholarship (AXIS*))

The GIGA Program
The Faculty of Environment and Information Studies’ GIGA (Global Information and Communication Technology and Governance Academic) Program is the first program in the undergraduate level to be conducted in English. As all of the main courses are offered in English, it is possible to acquire the necessary amount of credits for graduation solely through using English. In addition to lecture-based courses, students actively participate in projects, overseas fieldwork and internship programs. Thus, the program aims to develop individuals who can play a key role on the global stage.

*The Akira – Keio SFC Social Innovation Scholarship (AXIS)
The Akira – Keio Social Innovation Scholarship (AXIS) is awarded to one exceptional international student who is accepted into the GIGA Program. Information on the application procedure is available on the Admissions page of the GIGA website. Selection is based on the materials submitted at the time of application for the Program. The scholarship amount is 500,000 yen per year.

The original Japanese article of “Juku” can be viewed from here. (P.8-9)