Robyn Natsuko Shinozaki is an ICU student spending her junior year abroad at Georgetown University. She is one of five ICU students to receive the JICUF’s Study Abroad Scholarship for the 2015-16 academic year. This is the second year this scholarship has been awarded.
This interview is the final installment in a five-part series highlighting the Study Abroad Scholarship recipients. The scholarship is intended to support ICU students who are studying abroad in North America. This year, it was awarded to five students who are spending one year at Georgetown University, Middlebury College, Ohio State University, University of California, Berkeley and University of California, Los Angeles.
JICUF: Thank you for agreeing to this interview, Robyn! Let’s start with some background information. What is your major at ICU?
Robyn: Thank you for interviewing me! My major is in International Relations & Development and I am in my junior year at ICU.
JICUF: That’s great. How are you liking your time at Georgetown University?
Robyn: It is way more challenging than I expected. The language is a challenge, of course, but the student culture is also very different. Everyone is opinionated and always raising their hands to participate and question the professor. I still have trouble keeping up, but I have learned to cope with the daily workload and I have better time management skills now.
JICUF: That does sound tough, but I am sure you will learn a lot from this challenge. Are you involved in any extracurricular activities?
Robyn: Yes, I am part of a student consulting group for nonprofits and social enterprises. We are split into student teams and have different projects.
My team is working with a startup creating a philanthropy app. We need to do things like customer research and market and competitor analysis for them. I am really enjoying the group, the work and meetings with clients!
JICUF: That’s wonderful! Why did you decide to study abroad?
Robyn: Well, my mom and dad met in college in Fresno, California. My mom was from Singapore and my dad was from Japan. They got so much out of their time abroad that it was always an expectation that I would also study abroad when I got to my 3rd year of college.
JICUF: That is a great family tradition. How did you develop an interest in International Development and International Relations?
Robyn: Ultimately, I would love to have a career involving Nepal. I think what I am studying now, International Development and International Relations, can help me gain some useful insights.
What I am studying definitely relates to what I have seen on the ground, and it’s important to go back and forth between theory and field work. Some things cannot be understood unless you experience it, and at the same time there’s so much you can learn and reflect upon from books.
JICUF: That is very insightful and true, Robyn. Your experience and dedication to Nepal is impressive. If you don’t mind my asking, how did you develop an “American” accent growing up in Japan?
Robyn: Haha, well there was very little exposure to English in my Japanese school’s curriculum and my Mom thought English was a priority – especially since I am ‘hafu’.
My Mom and Dad both speak fluent English so they decided my Mom would homeschool me once a week during elementary school. She also wanted me to meet other hafu kids. Since we lived in Oita in Kyushu, there was a big community of hafu kids.
JICUF: That’s great! Please tell me why you decided to go to ICU.
Robyn: I chose to go to ICU because – growing up in Oita – there was a good sized international community, but it was still a relatively small Japanese city. I wanted to be exposed to a large international community, but I also wanted to have small classes and close interaction with my professors. It was a choice between Waseda and ICU. ICU was the better fit for me.
JICUF: I am happy you chose ICU. Had you heard of the Japan ICU Foundation before we reached out to you?
Robyn: I heard about the Japan ICU Foundation when I received the Study Abroad Scholarship. Thank you again for your support. I also heard about the grants funding JICUF has available. I am planning to apply for it!
JICUF: That is wonderful to hear.
Thank you again for taking the time to do this interview. We look forward to staying in touch and hope to meet you when you are in next in New York.