Internship Experience #15 | Ms. Kasumi Kitagawa
I am currently a junior in university, and majoring in Business. In this field of studies, I study a wide range of subject especially international business communication.
Why did I want to study abroad?
I have been interested in the western culture because of music, movies and dramas since when I was young. And when I went abroad for the first time, I was surprised by how kind and friendly people are. Then I thought “it would be more fun if I could talk with local people in English because I am able to understand their culture”. From that moment, I decided to learn English seriously. And I set my goal as going abroad to study English.
Why Melbourne, Australia?
I studied at Melbourne, Australia as an exchange student from my university. This particular program does not partner with many overseas universities, but I was really attracted by two things of Melbourne. Firstly, many people said Melbourne is the most comfortable city to live in the world. Secondly, a quarter of Melbourne's population are immigrants so I could experience various cultures. In addition, Melbourne’s cityscape is mixed with classic and modern design whilst having a European atmosphere. One extra tidbit is that Melbourne has four seasons which is the same as Japan. People can feel each season and enjoy them by doing respective events.
What are you like before studying abroad
I constantly wondered how much can I improve my English speaking skill. What I felt after I arriving is the hesitation to speak English. In Japan, I only use English by listening to music and watching movies. So, I was not used to speak English and constantly rethought about grammar in my head and checked whether the phrase was correct before talking since I was afraid of making mistakes, which could be said as a Japanese characteristic. Because of this, I often lost the chance to say my opinions and what I thought. Compared to Japanese students, I feel students from other countries can firmly speak freely about their opinions. I believe that this is exactly what we should learn from them: he ability of instantly coming up with creative ideas might have been by the education they have received. This is vastly different from my culture. In Japan, students are only focused at enrollment, it seems that the journey to admissions is more arduous than graduation.
What are you like after studying abroad?
The biggest thing that changed was that I had acquired the ability to take action and started to relish the feeling of trying new challenges. Initially, I spent time with my classmates because the program was pre-planned by the university. However, I realized I was several points away from my goal which is “make the most out of this opportunity”. Then I tried to spend time with different international students as long as possible. I went out by myself, met people and made friends. Hopefully, it worked. For the first time, I felt my English proficiency had improved. Thus, I recognized that this big change came about due to me bursting out of my comfort zone. Moreover, I could see not only good points but also bad points of Japanese and Australian culture objectively after living for a period of time in Australia. When I travel to public places or go into restaurants in Australia, I truly realized how polite and courteous Japanese people are. On the contrary, through the experience in Australia, I felt that people who work look like livelier, and students have dreams or a clear purpose and they learn in order to achieve them.
Melbourne's attractions
Among Australia, Melbourne has many historical buildings and arts, and you can enjoy it even by walking around the city. Because the wall art called Hoiser Lane is repainted one after another, each time you go you can see a different street art. In addition, there are thousands of cafes in the city and you can spend your time just by visiting a café. In Japan, Starbucks is the most famous and major one which you can see anywhere you go, but in Melbourne, it is said that there is no room for Starbucks entering into the Melbourne café and coffee market. Many people are coming to take the qualification of baristas from all over the world, so it is also fun to compare various coffee and find your favourite.
Why intern in Singapore?
The reason why I decided internship abroad is because I noticed my weak English. I thought I could improve my English conversational skills, but realized it was quite difficult doing so while working for a Japanese company. For this reason, I came into the idea of an internship so that I could use and improve my English. Also, I wanted to know what it is like to work overseas and want to know the difference from working in Japan, and I chose Singapore since the country has the one of the highest level of economic freedom index in the world. As Singapore is also a multi-ethnic country, when you walk through town you will meet people with different nationalities. I found it very intriguing that people comes from different backgrounds are living together, which is almost impossible to experience in Japan. Actually, the company I am interning has employees from many nationalities and I can enjoy the environment where people work together despite of different countries.
What kind of benefits do you get from interning abroad?
For an internship abroad, you can acquire the skills for working in the future by improving the language skills in the business scene, not just language, any industry. If you are interested in working overseas and want to make use of your language skills, I would like you to challenge yourself and take the plunge, it might make you realize what you want to do in the future!
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