Appreciating Diverse Senses of Values and Realizing Self-Growth—Hitotsubashi University Study Abroad Programs

December 27, 2023

Hitotsubashi University Study Abroad Program, Hitotsubashi University Global Leader Development Program, Summer School, Intercultural Exchange and Training, Overseas Language Course, and more—Hitotsubashi University boasts a variety of study abroad programs that give over a hundred students the opportunity to study in another country each year. Many of them say that the new knowledge they gained and the personal interactions they had while learning overseas transformed their sense of values and guided them toward their future. Let’s ask two students and one working adult to share the rewards of their respective experiences of studying abroad.

Enhancing my views through deep discussions with professors—
The importance of stepping outside my comfort zone and exploring the world

kondoArina Kondo
4th year, Faculty of Law
Destination: University of Oxford, United Kingdom

I spent my middle and high school years in Mongolia and the United States. It was during this period that I became interested in international relations. At the time I enrolled in Hitotsubashi University, I wasn't sure if I wanted to go studying abroad. However, as I took part in debate club, I was inspired by people around me and became motivated to study abroad. I then decided to go study abroad to the University of Oxford, for I had always been attracted to British history and culture through various literatures, and I thought the Philosophy, Politics, and Economics course (PPE) that the University of Oxford offers would provide me with loads of opportunities to enhance my knowledge.

The workload at Oxford was very intense. There were only two courses per term, but every week, I was required to read over thirty readings, submit multiple essays, and attend tutorials (one-on-two discussion between a professor and students). Exploring international relations and other subjects from a viewpoint of Britain’s complex social class and colonial history was interesting. The Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery, at the University of Glasgow, in Scotland, for example, had impressive exhibitions captured through the lens of diversity. The intense course content really helped to foster critical thinking skills and see the world with more comprehensive perspectives.

Oxford also offered plenty of valuable opportunities to interact with people of different backgrounds. Outside of my studies, I attended parties and joined clubs, which encouraged me to talk with people of different ages and races. I volunteered to teach Japanese and English and joined the university choir and orchestra. I also had picnics, watched garden plays (plays performed by the students outdoors around springtime), and went punting with my friends. During long holidays, I went to see theaters, visited museums in London, and traveled around Europe, all of which took me out of my comfort zone and explore the world.

Every experience I had while studying abroad was fascinating and filled with so many new discoveries, which I wouldn’t have had if I had not come to the UK. I recognized the importance of talking to new people, learning about different cultures and values, and understanding each other. All the experience had a significant influence on my future career path.

OxfordOxford cityscape

Oxford academic dressSub fusc (Academic Dress of the University of Oxford)

College dinnerCollege dinner

College chapelCollege chapel

Foreign countries are no longer special places—Studying abroad kindled my fondness for Japan

ShimoboTakeru Shimobo
4th year, Faculty of Social Sciences
Destination: University of Cologne, Germany

I had always wanted to study abroad. In fact, one of the reasons I enrolled in Hitotsubashi University was its vast offering of study abroad programs. When the time came to join the student exchange program, I wanted to select a destination where I could not only brush up my English skills but also be exposed to languages other than English. I decided on the University of Cologne, in Germany, which has a Faculty of Management, Economics and Social Sciences offering multi-disciplinary studies in English.

I took courses on a wide range of subjects, from education gap, which I had learned about in Hitotsubashi seminars, to international trade and economic and social inequality in general. The classes on education gap taught me about the German education system, which is completely different from that of Japan, and introduced me to methods of discussion and points of view that I hadn’t been aware of before. That was also where I saw the German students and international students from all corners of the globe speak fluently in English. I felt their education was different from ours in Japan.

A huge reward for me, apart from the opportunity to study at a university outside Japan, was the chance to make new friends. I became especially close with a student from Taiwan and made good memories traveling with him around 13 countries in Europe. Through my interactions with him, I discovered what it’s like to overcome the language barrier and get to know someone. Even my English skills improved as a result.

Before studying abroad, I thought I wanted to work outside Japan in the future. But having had the experience of living overseas, foreign countries were no longer special places for me. On the contrary, having been overseas kindled a desire to work for the good of people close to me, like my family and friends, and more than that, for the good of Japan. Now I’m more interested in general contractor or marine transport—a job that supports the infrastructure and people’s lives in Japan. I owe this change of heart to the experience of studying abroad.

Cologne main buildingUniversity of Cologne main building

Christmas marketEntrance of the Christmas market in Cologne’s historic old town (Heumarkt)

the Hohenzollern BridgeNight view of the Cologne Cathedral and the Hohenzollern Bridge

CarnivalCarnival held in Cologne from the middle to end of February

A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that broadened my horizon, getting to know Chinese way of doing businesses

KoyamaCharlie Koyama
Employee of Aozora Bank, Ltd.
Completed Hitotsubashi University Business School—School of International Corporate Strategy (Hitotsubashi ICS) in 2022
Completed MBA at Peking University in 2023
Destination: Peking University, China

Before joining Hitotsubashi MBA program, most of my academic and work experiences abroad had been accumulated in European and/or American context. As I was building my career at a Japanese financial institution, I started to feel that I might want to explore Asian context, too. And, if Asia, I thought that China would be the destination, as it is one of the most influential and interesting counties in many ways. I decided to begin my “Asian context journey” with attending the double degree program of Hitotsubashi University Business School – School of International Corporate Strategy (“ICS”) & Peking University – Guanghua School of Management (“PKU”). I believed that building a personal network and learning about business there would benefit my career.

My MBA journey at PKU turned out to be full of unexpected events driven primarily by the COVID-19 pandemic. I was eventually not able to enter China and took all the courses online. As an “online” student, I encountered the difficulty to work and communicate with those who participated the courses “offline (in person)”. Although the program was conducted in English, group activities and most of the conversations were conducted in person – and often in Chinese. Not being in China gave me a hard time. With a lot of uncertainties (both COVID-driven and Non-COVID-driven), it took time to accommodate myself to a new environment at PKU. That being said, such challenging environment made me get out of my comfort zone, work harder and eventually learn more.

Retrospectively, I think what I learned at PKU (besides all the tough coursework) was "Accept uncertainty, adopt to that, and stick with your goal/achieve what you want to”. I feel that is the strength of Chinese business and how they have achieved their economic growth today. I struggled for the most of the time during my MBA, but all the challenges I encountered made me become a more-capable business person. I appreciate the opportunity that both ICS and PKU gave me, and am now enjoying a new chapter of my career.

Peking UniversityPeking University Guanghua School of Management (MBA)

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