Takefumi Hayashi is a junior student at ICU, and currently studying abroad at Cardiff University, England. He now is dedicating his time to creating a new communication platform for ICU students. This is an interview of his time abroad, his project and thoughts about ICU.
Ryoma Toratani: Please tell me about your background/upbringing.
Takefumi Hayashi: I spent my whole life in Nagano prefecture until my graduation from high school. I was really into playing basketball in a high school club, and I had no idea what to do in the future.
I was lucky to enter ICU and be placed in the university dormitory called Canada House – a dorm that is quite international and sparked my interest in studying abroad. I would say it has made me who I am now. I got a chance to study in UK, and am now studying business and economics, especially banking and finance, in Cardiff Business School during my year abroad.
RT: Why did you choose ICU?
TH: I chose ICU because I thought I could learn a new way of thinking there. I did not know what exactly what I wanted to do in the future at the time. The only thing I knew was that I liked really using my brain and enjoyed challenging questions. I was impressed with how students learn at ICU.
RT: What are you majoring in, and researching specifically?
TH: I am majoring in business and economics. I am studying Banking and Finance mainly, and I have great interest in regulations and laws of money market.
RT: Do you think you have changed after entering ICU? If so, in what way?
TH: I have changed in various ways. The most significant change in myself is the way of thinking. I am learning to think more critically and to consider various perspectives. The lectures at ICU were a big part in this change, but also the international and multicultural environment of Canada House enabled this transformation as well.
RT: Why did you decide to join your exchange program?
TH: The main reason why I joined exchange program is to obtain the true sense of communication in English. Basically, I had an idea that miscommunication goes because of not only the lack of common language, but also the lack of shared knowledge and cultural backgrounds. I thought I needed to live in complete international environment to get the true sense of international communication. In addition, I found that ICU does not have courses to allow me to deeply learn about Banking and Finance, but their exchange partners provide access to those courses.
RT: How is studying abroad changing your life/value/perspectives?
TH: It goes without saying that every single part of my school life has changed. For example, the amount of time to spend in study, the ways of taking lecture, how to prepare for assignments, the amount of beer I drink per a night and the number of parties I attend per a week. Since I am a minority and in quite an international environment here, I recognize my nationality much stronger than I did when I was in Japan. At the same time, I became more liberal and open-minded to anything.
RT: What would you say is the greatest change in your life through the exchange program?
TH: Well, I cannot tell that, since I haven’t complete my full year yet. I feel like you do not really recognize your change when you are changing. So far, I can see the small changes in my life as I mentioned above. If I had to choose the greatest change so far, I would say recognition of my nationality. I have an opportunity to look at Japanese culture while comparing other cultures. It is not a problem whether British culture is acceptable or not. The point is I could recognize some brilliant parts of Japanese culture I didn’t notice before. It is important to have this broad cultural perspective in Japan since I think it will be the key for Japan to compete or survive in the global market. I don’t think I would have been able to see what I see now if I had stayed in Japan.
RT: What do you want to do after graduating ICU?
TH: I don’t have a specific plan, but I would like to contribute to IT of Japan somehow. I believe that IT technology and business are really important and hot because they will be the key for Japan to keep its economical wealth in the future.
RT: Let’s talk about your web-page. Tell me about your project, why did you start it? What was the motivation, for whom and for what?
TH: The goal of my project is to provide infrastructure which enable ICU students to communicate much smoothly and to expand their learning opportunities. I am creating a simple posting website, like ICU’s “W3 page” for the first step. The difference between my project and W3 is that contributors and readers interact each other and… mine is a bit more ‘cool’ looking! After I launch the first website, I am going to develop more functions, such as a small group social network, an education network, a support center for exchange students, e-commerce, and so on.
I was inspired to create this project by my friend’s words; “I wish if I could make more friends at ICU.” He was an exchange student from UK, and I was told these words just before he finished up his exchange year. I recognized this as a critical issue since the lack of information deprived students to learn and interact. Getting information is the first step of meeting new people, new challenges, new developments and new experiences.
To summarize, I would like students, especially exchange students from outside of ICU, to have access to information more easily and to maximize their opportunities.
RT: Do you find it important to connect with ICU Alumni in North America?
TH: It would be great to be in contact with more alumni and find out what they are really doing. Maybe if we got a chance to exchange ideas and discuss ICU we could find many opportunities to work together.
RT: Please describe ICU in your own words.
TH: The place where people can think freely, challenge anything with no excuse and live their own life.
At the same time, they can easily get lost, as long as they do not think and act by themselves. There is freedom to make your own path.
RT: Any message to your fellow ICU students?
TH: Do what you think exciting, that’s the only right track to survive and maximize your opportunities in ICU.
RT: Thank you for your time.