I talked with the six seniors who studied abroad and did internship abroad among university students and asked them what they got from their study abroad and internship abroad, what impact was given to their job hunting, and what advantages was given to their current jobs. This time I will introduce the second story of study abroad. If you have not read the previous article yet, please click the link below.
“Want to work overseas in the future” For that reason, there are many university students who wish to study abroad so that they can speak English before graduating. I interviewed with Mana Kawasaki who graduated Osaka University. She also entered the university with the desire to work abroad in the future same as you. And she was keenly aware that she couldn’t speak English at all in a short-term study abroad that she participated in at the first year of the university. Then she decided to study abroad for a long term. What kind of experience did she who are working as an accountant at a Japanese trading company, have during her study abroad? And what kind of impact did the experience bring to her and her English ability? Let’s explore her experience.
Tatsuo: Hello, let’s start the interview. First, where and when did you study abroad?
Nama: It was from the second semester of the third year to the first term of the fourth year. The semester started slightly earlier than Japan in the US, I started studying abroad in August 2014. I left Japan after the first semester of the third year and returned to Japan in the middle of May 2015. I studied abroad at the department of international relationship at the University of Georgia in the US. I mainly took classes of international politics and international economy and I was interested in classes about development in developing countries especially.
Why did you decide to study abroad long time?
There were two reasons, the first one was I wanted to improve my English skills. Before study abroad, there were already many opportunities to meet international students and took classes of English but I thought that I wanted to do something because I couldn’t express what I wanted to say. I thought I wanted to work at a company dealing with foreign companies in the future as well, so I believed that it was better to improve my English skills before graduating.
And when I talked with international students in classes, I felt Japanese often has a different way of thinking from that of other countries. Then I wondered that how do people think in foreign countries. This was the second reason why I decided to study abroad in the US.
You were curious about how Japan was being seen purely. What was the trigger for thinking of going to study abroad?
I studied abroad for a short period in Australia at the end of the first year. It was the trigger of that I wanted to study abroad for a long term. In the class during the short-term study abroad, there were only Japanese students and I couldn’t improve my English skills. However, I had a lot of chance to use English because I did a homestay, I learned English so much for the college entrance examination, but I felt I could not talk so much when I tried to talk. Then I wanted to study abroad for a long time and become fluent in English.
So the regret at your short period study abroad was the trigger to study abroad for a long time. When did you start to be interested in abroad?
When I was a high school student, I went to Australia on a field trip and I became to love Australia so much. While thinking I wanted to go again, I found the short term study abroad program in Australia at my university so I applied it. I liked English in the term of subjects as well so I was interested in abroad.
You were interested in abroad already at high school. What university did you choose?
I became to be interested in poverty and development in developing countries and so on by watching the video of international organization at high school. After that, when I researched Japanese universities where I could study such kind of things, I found the international public policy at the Faculty of Law in Osaka University. When I went to the college’s open day for new students, I met a professor who I wanted to study under so I decided to apply the department at the time. Perhaps I was interested in international relationship from the time of my high school.
Have you had any difficulties in actually studying abroad?
Daily conversation did not struggle so much, but it was really tough to catch up the classes because the words used in classes were completely different from daily conversation. In the university in the US, teachers and students were talking interactively. Teachers explained slowly and clearly so I could understand what teachers told but I totally coundn’t understand what other students spoke at the beginning. I wondered what he was saying? lol. It was impossible to express my opinions because there was no idea what the other students was saying. It was hard for me. In addition, I also had a hard time not only talk but also read. In addition to having a lot of homework, there are also many words I didn’t know and it took time to jus read. Sometimes I couldn’t complete homework on time and it was hard as well.
How did you get used to English and adopt the hard environment?
At the early part of study abroad, I couldn’t actively participate in classes because I couldn’t say anything. First of all, I made one or two friends who I could talk with, and if I had a group discussion, I entered the same group with them and asked “What was he saying?” When my friends were talking on a one-to-one, they talked slowly, so I gradually get used to English. I also went to tell the teacher before the class, “Although it may not be possible to say nothing as discussion as an international student, I will do my best by listening to classes” lol. Because teachers were generally gentle, the teacher told me that “It’s alright, so if you have something you don’t understand, visit me during the office hours”, so I used the office hour. As soon as I started studying abroad, I was afraid to be told “What is that English?” because of my misunderstanding and wrong speaking and I couldn’t express my opinions well. But I told my close friends that I wanted to improve my English and I asked them “What is the word?”, “Is this pronunciation correct?” and was given feedback from them when I faced words I didn’t know.
I think you had a lot of hardships while studying abroad, how was the ease of English communication changed through study abroad? And has the score of TOEFL/TOEIC increased after study abroad?
I think that the vocabulary has increased, the grammar has improved, and the ease of communicating in English has improved. The rest is a matter of feeling, but until now I could not express my opinions positively when I did not have confidence in the content or expression because I thought I had to talk properly. However, as I listened to the remarks of other students in the class, it became easier to express my opinion after noticing that it was important to transmit my opinion, even if the contents and expressions were not perfect. How much I can speak English in terms of score, 55 points before study abroad and 85 points after study abroad. Prior to study abroad, the TOEFL score was 81, TOEIC was 860 points. After study abroad, TOEFL score increased to 93, TOEIC score increased to 980. I thought it was good to go abroad.
TOEIC is almost perfect. It is amazing! I think the progress of English, which is the purpose of studying abroad, has been successfully achieved. How was it about seeing Japan from outside as another purpose of studying abroad?
There was a class on East Asian history. It was a class to study past history and incidents of Korea, China and Japan, but I had seen it only from the perspective of the Japanese side until then. For example, I had an impression that other countries were bad from the perspective of Japan, but it was different that the teacher was Chinese and some students came from Korea. An opinion came out, “Is that right? I think that Japan is not correct?” It was noticed that if I had been watching a thing only from my point of view without seeing from various perspectives on one thing, I would go to a biased person.
I think it is a common insight for those who experienced study abroad, the openness and aggressiveness of the mind changed before and after studying abroad, I began to think trying to do anything even if I would failure. When I started studying abroad, I thought that I do not want to make mistakes in daily conversation, but I changed my mind and began to think I should talk regardless of failure. I thought that I didn’t want to go events because I couldn’t speak English and I couldn’t understand the conversation. But I came to think that let’s get going anyway and something might be different. I think that this changed considerably before and after studying abroad. Other international students who did their best inspired me. I didn’t want to lose either and I tried to do my best as well.
You got so many things through study abroad! What was your job hunting after study abroad?
I checked the recruiting sites in March during studying abroad, but I couldn’t switch my mode to job hunting quickly. Because I had to submit reports about study abroad and fill some documents after returning to Japan in May. At the beginning of July, there was a recruitment forum for those who experienced study abroad, so I joined the event. I heard the explanation about companies and received interviews there. However, there were students who seriously prepared for the event and an interview so it did not go well. At that time I felt rushed so I started to put my back into job hunting.
What I was tired mentally at the time of job hunting was that everyone around me already had a job offer at the time when big companies started to provide a job offer, but I did not have it. Everyone had places if they failed in big companies’ selections, but if I could not get a job offer from big companies, it would have been the next year so it was hard. But I thought it would be OK to delay graduation for one year in the worst case. Because I had that escape path, I was not terribly uneasy. I wanted to go to not a company that I didn’t know well but a company that there was a project what I wanted to do. That’s why I thought that it would be OK to delay my graduation a year if I couldn’t get any job offer.
What kind of job did you want to do?
I was looking for companies where there was a chance to work overseas and engage with foreign countries. It was a job that I could make a big impact on other countries. I thought that the business developing power stations in developing countries was with a high social contribution. From that point of view, I applied trading companies and manufacturers. Not only trading companies but also manufacturers were expanding overseas and there were also a lot of work related to developing countries, so it was difficult to focus on the industry, and when I began my job hunting, I applied offers of all companies which I was interested in.
What do you do now?
I am working as an accountant at a trading company. I desired to work at the department doing a project of developing power stations and agriculture. But I was assigned to a department related to resource now and it was also a corporate department, so I felt a gap at the beginning of the assignment. I use English sometimes by e-mail or telephone, but it is close to the sales department and it’s interesting to be involved in accounting issues of the business. The department in charge was large and there were businesses involved in developing countries so it was not far from being interested. It was good for me.
I think that there are many people who are interested in foreign countries and would like to enter a trading company. One thing that I want to tell such kind of students, there is a big risk you can’t choose a department you will be assigned to at trading companies. Depending on the department’s needs and other people’s abilities it is often not assigned to your desired department as me. I think that if you have a specific desire like to want to work not in somewhere abroad but in Cambodia, you should apply offers of specific companies. I thought that after I joined the trading company. I have friends who are suffering from the gap between image and real after entering the company because of being assigned to the undesired department.
I see. The trading company has a large risk of assignment, and the experience of studying abroad can not be made use of in the current work so far. What do you think about your work after you join the company for a while? Also, how much is the score of the experience of studying abroad with considering it as self-investment?
Recently I feel that accounting is interesting little by little. At first I did not understand what my boss said and I was very disliked. But I got to know the job of accounting little by little. Accounting is a new field that I have not studied so far so it is fun to be able to learn new things and acquire expertise. Moreover, I feel that it is one of interesting that I can be involved in the business of the sales department in charge from a position of accounting to a deep part. Considering study abroad as self-investment is 100 points! A few years later, it is highly likely that I will work overseas, so I think that experience in study abroad surely will help me.
There are things that become fun by doing things you do not know so far. What kind of career are you planning in the future?
It is supposed to change the department as a company policy in 3 to 4 years. There are two options: go overseas as accounting within 2 to 3 years, or ask for sales. Since I wanted to go abroad soon when I joined the company, I thought that it would be a good idea to go abroad as an accounting, but I think that sales seem to be interesting when I look at sales jobs. I feel like I want to go to business now and I am lost in both of them. But I have not decided which one to choose yet, I keep these options and I will choose based on my feelings two years after.
Thank you for the interview!
How did you feel about Mana’s study abroad experience? She went to the US in order to improve her English skills and she reflected that she could improve her ease of English communication. Currently, she is discovering the fun of accounting even she felt the risk of assignment in trading companies and she is sure the study abroad experience will help her when she works abroad in the next few years. Those who want to improve English before graduation, why don’t you go to study abroad for a long time to improve your English skills like Mana?
– I’m sure that the experience of study abroad will help me when I work abroad in the next few years
|The destination, term and purpose of study abroad
|At the department of international relashionship, at the Universit of Georgia in the US
From the second semester at the 3rd year to the first semester at the 4th year (August 2014 – May 2015)
To improve English skills and see Japan from outside
|Amount: about 20,000 USD
– Tuition fee: 6,000 USD
– Food expences: 2,000 USD
– Residential expenses: 7,000 USD
– Travel cost: 2,500 USD
– Visa fee: 200 USD
– Immunization cost: 300 USD
– Insurance fee 1,200 USD
*Get 2,000 USD per month from her scholarship
|Security and life
|There was no problem
|Language and Communication
|Before: TOEFL 81, TOEIC 860
After: TOEFL 93, TOEIC 980
|Impact for job hunting
|I had room to breathe to delay my graduation for one year, but it was tough that I didn’t have any job offer when big companies started recruiting
|Impact for current job
|Currently, I sometimes use English by email and call
|Insights and Learnings
|1. There are various perspectives
2. Got openness and aggressiveness
CONPATH introduces experiences of internship abroad and study abroad for those who want to experience long-term experience abroad while in college but who are wondering what is suitable for them.
If you would like to read other experiences, please click the link below.