Daichi Hibi is an ICU student spending his junior year abroad at Middlebury College in Vermont. He is also one of four students to receive the JICUF’s Study Abroad Scholarship for academic year 2015-16. This is the second year this scholarship has been awarded.
This interview is part one in a four part series highlighting the Study Abroad Scholarship recipients. The scholarship is intended to support ICU students studying abroad in North America and was awarded to four students who are spending one year at Middlebury College, Ohio State University, University of California, Berkeley and University of California, Los Angeles, respectively.
Japan ICU Foundation: What motivated you to apply to and attend ICU?
Daichi Hibi: In middle school I was living in Moscow, Russia. I had never gone to a Japanese school before I went to the ICU High School. When I was considering which university to attend, I chose ICU because I like the liberal arts system and I wanted to study interdisciplinary things. I also thought ICU was more rigorous than other Japanese schools.
JICUF: Those are great reasons to apply to ICU. Please tell me a little more about what it was like to travel so much when you were younger.
DH: Well, I was born in Mexico City and lived there the first 3 years of my life. I then moved to Moscow for my Dad’s job for the next 3 years. After that, I moved to Miami, Florida for 3 years, and then back to Russia for the final three and a half years years. My father works for Sony and that’s why we moved around so much.
At this point I don’t mind moving so much. When I was younger I used to get emotional leaving my friends. But now I like it though I still have a small fear of planes!
JICUF: Wow, well you are very brave to be able to move so often despite your fear of planes! What is your academic major at ICU, your expected graduation date and clubs/student organizations that you participate in?
DH: 2017 April. I am a part of the baseball team at ICU and no other groups since baseball takes up a lot of time and until the past June I was team captain. It was a lot of work so I didn’t have any time for anything else.
JICUF: That’s great that you were team captain! What was it like?
DH: Team captain was really hard. I learned that each person has a different perspective. Being the captain, one has to adjust all of the perspectives so that they can follow one path together. I really noticed how everyone was so different with how they think and I had to learn how to be a leader for such a diverse group. I never took a leadership position before this.
JICUF: That sounds like a great learning experience. Do you currently live on the ICU campus or commute?
DH: When I was attending the ICU High School I lived in dorm, but now I live at home Meguro. It is about a one hour and half commute if you include the bike ride from the train station.
JICUF: I am very impressed with your dedication! Please tell me more about why you chose to study abroad and why you picked Middlebury.
DH: I took part in a 6 week summer program at UC Berkeley, which inspired me to study abroad. When I was there I took classes on American History and Sociology. They were very rigorous and it was a tough work load – one I had never experienced before! I had to study more than I had ever studied before, but I got used to it.
I chose an American school to study abroad because I wanted to challenge myself in an environment I am familiar with, such as language. I chose Middlebury in particular because I liked that it is in a rural area with only eight thousand people. It is small place where I can concentrate on my studies and it is also a liberal arts school similar to ICU.
Another factor is that my major is Media and Sociology, but I am also interested in environmental studies. Middlebury has a strong program in environmental studies.
JICUF: What do you hope to accomplish during your year abroad? Do you plan to join any clubs? Do you want to travel within the United States?
DH: I want to improve my English skills and cultivate my knowledge in academia. I also want to get to know a lot of people while studying abroad and I would like to do some research on grad school in the U.S. As for clubs, I was thinking of joining baseball, but my arm is a little injured. Other than baseball, I haven’t checked, but I will keep my mind open.
I definitely plan to travel. I think they kick us out during Thanksgiving and Winter Break so I want to visit friends in Pittsburgh, go to NYC, and maybe also the West Coast.
JICUF: Would you like to meet with ICU alumni in North America?
DH: If there is an opportunity I would love to. I am open to learning more about different careers and grad schools in the U.S. too.
JICUF: What are your goals for the future?
DH: I want to get a masters degree in Media or Sociology or a combined masters degree in both. After that, it depends on how passionate I am in academia. I originally dreamed of becoming a journalist when I was in high school so that is something I might want to look into. I am also interested in potentially getting a PhD.
JICUF: Those sound like great goals. I have just a couple more questions for you. First, had you heard of the Japan ICU Foundation (JICUF) before we reached out to you?
DH: Kind of… I first I heard about JICUF a year ago when Honami Iizuka was there through the Global Link summer program. The International Affairs Office at ICU also told me to contact you.
To be honest, though I had heard about the Foundation, but I did not know what JICUF does before I received the Study Abroad Scholarship and then I learned more when I visited JICUF as part of ICU Baseball team this past summer.
JICUF: I am happy that you have learned about us now and hope you will visit us when you come to New York! Thank you for taking the time to do this interview and for providing such thoughtful answers. Is there anything else you would like to share with ICU alumni and friends in North America?
DH: I want to thank the Japan ICU Foundation and the ICU alumni who donated towards it for the scholarship. It is great to receive it and I look forward to my year abroad.
JICUF: Thank you, Daichi. Good luck!