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"This program will give you life-long networks, global experiences, and the chance to engage more deeply with the host society because you will go through all these experiences with students of the same generation."

Students of the Three-Campus Comparative East Asian Studies Program
Stephanie Su (left)
Home country/region: Taiwan
Home institution: The University of Hong Kong
Ami Takanashi (center) 
Home country/region: Japan
Home institution: Keio University
Gyoewool Jung (right) 
Home country/region: South Korea
Home institution: Yonsei University

The Three-Campus Comparative East Asian Studies Program brings together students from three of Asia's top universities to engage with topics in Asian culture and society through both academic study and practical experience. Five second- or third-year students from each university study together at each of the three universities across one academic year: Fall Semester at Keio University, Japan; Spring Semester at Underwood International College, Yonsei University, South Korea, and a Summer School and internship led by the Faculty of Social Sciences, the University of Hong Kong, China.

As the program progresses, students deepen their understanding of issues in the East Asian region both through lectures taught in English and by sharing their own varied backgrounds and experiences. Living and learning together, they develop new perspectives and form close friendships.

Three students of the fifth year of the program-known as the fifth cohort-told Keio Global about how they approached the program, what they have gained, and their advice for future students.

What attracted you to the Three-Campus Program?

Ami: While I've always wanted to work in an international field especially for international human rights issues, I found myself with limited knowledge about Asia which is rapidly emerging and will probably play important roles in the next several years. As I'd interacted only with western countries, I wanted an opportunity to get close to Asia and its society; therefore, this Three-Campus program offering an opportunity of East Asian study as well as traveling between three countries was the best fit for me. Although I'm not certain about my career at this point, I have definitely gained the wider perspectives and knowledge that are needed to compete in an international field. With what I have learned, I would like to do something to make the world a better place in any way I can.

Gyoewool: As an International Studies major, I was always interested in the rise of China and the rising importance of East Asia. So academically, this East Asian studies program was perfect for me to study the regional issues from the perspectives of three different countries. Now, I want to pursue my career within this region, so this experience should give me great insights for my future possibilities and opportunities.

Stephanie: I was attracted by the opportunity of being able to go to two other countries in one exchange program. I also felt like I need to know about the region in which I am living in since I plan to work in East Asia in the future. Japan has always been another home to me because I used to visit my grandma there once every two years and I have never been to Korea before. I think this exchange program is a good chance for me to learn about these two countries on a deeper level.

"Discussions with other students from all over the world really inspired me and widened my perspective"

What academic aspects of the program have you found most interesting and why?

Ami: As we have compulsory classes at every campus we go to which are all related to social issues in Asia, we get to know much of the ongoing issues in Asia and that those issues are interconnected with each other.

Gyoewool: The exchange program courses I took were very interesting because I could exchange personal thoughts and experiences with other exchange students and Japanese students both inside and outside the class.The discussions with other students from all over the world really inspired me and widened my perspective in approaching problems.

Stephanie: I find learning about the cultures and foreign policies of each respective country that I am in to be interesting because of the significance of these countries in the region. I think it is important to know how Japan, Korea, and China stand in the regional order as well as the motives behind their foreign policies because these three nations play important roles in determining the integration and cooperation in East Asia.

What have been some of the highlights of the program for you so far?

Ami: As for Yonsei, although I'd visited Korea a lot of times before, I found a huge gap between living and visiting which taught me a lot. Also, the compulsory class was taught so well by a well-known professor who is on his leave for Harvard from next semester and I learned many important things. As for Hong Kong, the four weeks of internship are definitely the highlight as I'm experiencing a lot of things here. Also, living in a dorm was a very new experience for me!

Gyoewool: The best part of this program is that you are always together with the other members of your cohort. When I first came to Japan, I did not know much about the country, but interactions with the Three Campus fifth cohort members helped me to adapt to the new environment and understand the Japanese society better. I think having this group of life-long friends gave me a totally different experience in Japan.

Stephanie: The highlight of the program is getting to know people from the region and getting to know about what they think on current issues. It is always interesting to exchange ideas and learn more about what locals think about certain issues.

What differences have you noticed between Keio and Yonsei?

Ami: I found Yonsei more competitive as their grading policy is pretty strict and every student studies very hard and thinks hard about their future. Having every class with a smaller amount of students was the best part of Yonsei because you get to learn deeper by directly communicating with the professors.

"It is always interesting to exchange ideas and learn more about what locals think about certain issues."

Gyoewool: I can't really directly compare the two schools because I spend more time with local Korean students in Yonsei while I mostly took classes together and hung out with exchange students, but overall, Keio social life for students seemed much more focused on clubs and student activities, whereas Yonsei is more open to diverse experiences.

Stephanie: Academically, the classes in Keio are more focused on the Japanese aspect and perspectives of many topics while the classes in Yonsei are more general and broad. Yet, due to the nationality of the professors, the classes tend to have tints of the Japanese perspective in Keio and the Korean perspective in Yonsei.

What do you think you will take away from the program and what are your expectations for the remaining part of the program in Hong Kong?

"I'm sure that the wider perspectives and flexibility I've gained throughout this program will give me a lot of advantages in the future."

Ami: I will definitely take away awareness from this program. Although people tend to consider themselves as globalized only from a western point of view, Asia is playing a big role as I mentioned above, and I think I've become more culturally aware in that sense. I'm sure that the wider perspectives and flexibility I've gained throughout this program will give me a lot of advantages in the future.

We finished the two weeks of summer school in Hong Kong last week and just started the internship. Although we only have four weeks left, I'm aiming to make the best of it as Hong Kong is a place where western and eastern cultures fuse, which is the best place to conclude this study.

Gyoewool: The most valuable thing that I will take away from this program, I think, is the life-long friendship with the members of my cohort. We have been doing all kinds of different things together as a group throughout the program, and this really is a very special opportunity during an exchange visit to another country. Also, the experiences of exploring and comparing the three countries really provided a more thorough and better understanding of the three societies. I expect the experience in Hong Kong will nicely sum up the yearlong program by giving me some sort of a big picture or an idea of what future I should pursue further in East Asia.

Stephanie: I think what I took away from the program is more in-depth knowledge on political and cultural aspects of Korea and Japan. I expect to gain a meaningful experience from the internship in Hong Kong as well as to take my friends around and introduce them to the Hong Kong that I know.

Do you have any advice for students who are considering the Three-Campus Program?

Ami: Although being able to travel a lot is the best part of this program, time flies so fast in each country and there is almost no time in between. Therefore, I would advise students considering the program to make plans in advance if there is anything specific they want to do in each country.

Gyoewool: If you just want some experience of living in a place you've always dreamed of or just in a foreign country, any exchange program will provide you with lots of opportunities and experiences. However, if you want more true global friendship and global engagement and if you are interested in re-emerging Asia, I think the Three-Campus program serves the right cause. This program will give you life-long networks, global experiences, and the chance to engage more deeply with the host society because you will go through all these experiences with students of the same generation. If you are still considering whether or not you should go on an exchange, just take the challenge and go! It will open a new chapter in your life!

Stephanie: It would be good for those students to have an open mind and also the passion to want to soak in everything this program has to offer. It is also important for them to step out of their comfort zones and reach out to other people.

What is one word or short phrase that sums up the Three-Campus Program?

Ami: Diverse.
Gyoewool: Life-changing!
Stephanie: A diverse Asian experience.

This interview is from July 2013.

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