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Dolphin Tales

Enjoying the Challenges and Freedom of Life at University

Shizuko, Class of 2018, though not too far from NIS, is navigating the cultural differences she has encountered in her learning environment.


Where are you now?
I attend Aichi Medical University in Japan. It’s actually just a 20 minute drive from NIS, so I am still in the same area!

What are you studying? Do you have a major?
I am studying medicine. I will be starting my fourth year this April. Medical school is 6 years in Japan, so I’ve still got three years to go!

What was your favorite class so far?
It’s been both very interesting and terrifying to learn about all the things that can go wrong in a human body. It’s made me extremely grateful for my health. Out of everything I’ve learned so far, I very much enjoyed my Obstetrics unit. It was amazing to learn about the creation of a functional human being, and made me develop a whole new appreciation for mothers - man do they go through a lot for their child.

What was your least favorite class so far?
I was definitely not a fan of some of the general ed courses that I had to take in my first year. Math and physics in particular were extremely challenging for me, because both the material and teaching style were so different from what I had experienced at NIS. Math in Japanese sounded like gibberish to me. I can definitely say that I am glad I never have to go through that again! 

What part of university life do you enjoy the most? 
I love the freedom I have as a university student. Despite the restrictions we have due to COVID, it’s awesome having the freedom to do whatever I want whenever I want.
I think my favorite part about being a university student is living on my own. 

Outside of your studies, what is one thing that you are excited about or interested in these days?
My part time jobs keep me quite busy when I’m not studying. I work as a barista at Starbucks which I quite enjoy because I love coffee. I work at the one near NIS, so come say hi if you ever get the chance! Other than that, since COVID I’ve basically been spending most of my free time at home. I enjoy reading and listening to music in my apartment.

What is the one thing you miss about NIS?
I miss sports, the music room, the tight-knit community, and all my teachers.

What’s the biggest difference between where you are now and NIS?
Where do I begin? I would say the biggest difference is the culture. Since I am in a fully Japanese environment now, I had to get used to a lot of things I never encountered while at NIS - one that took a lot of getting used to was the relationship between upper and lower-classmen, and between students and teachers. I definitely do miss NIS’s friendly atmosphere. 

Any words of wisdom for your younger friends - your “kohai” about preparing for or enjoying university life?
Love yourself and take care of yourself! Try new things and find what makes you happy - then do more of that! As long as you’re happy (and you’re not hurting anyone), that’s all that matters! Embrace change and trust that you'll end up wherever you need to be. It can be scary going from a small, super tight-knit community like NIS to a completely new environment, but I truly believe the things you learn at NIS are invaluable and will help you get through so much in life. Good luck!