Zhang Kunjie (China)
Waseda University Graduate School, Graduate School of Education
Q 1. What did you major in?
I majored in Japanese Studies.
Q 2. How long did you study Japanese before coming to Japan?
As a student in the Japanese Language Department of my University, I studied for about 2 years and a half. I got close to N2 level at the time.
Q 3. Can you give us an example of your daily routine of when you were in the Japanese Language School?
I had classes in the morning, and my part-time job in the afternoon. In my free time days, I would stay home to study for my specialization. In the evenings, I used to train my listening and pronunciation skills.
Q 4. What were the Graduate School Preparation Class lessons about?
For the listening part, we would listen to the news or live lectures, and try to sum up the content. Concerning speaking skills, we would focus on doing presentations about our research plans and use honorific expressions. For the reading part, we would create PPT presentations resuming academic texts we read in class, while we also studied how write short essays and reports.
Q 5. You and your classmates come from different academic backgrounds, but how did the teachers manage to provide support to all of them?
Students and their majors differ, but they have some general traits in common: for example, the research plan writing process, researching preceding studies, interview simulations. Even though me and my classmates had different majors, we studied all together.
Q 6. What was the most interesting subject?
I enjoyed doing presentations. I had the opportunity to learn something about my classmates’ majors too, and asking and being asked questions was very stimulating too.
Q 7. What subject studied in ARC helped you the most with the admission examination?
The interview preparation. Studying etiquette and learning how to predict which questions would be asked during the interview was very useful.
Q 8. Is there anything ARC teachers helped you with besides classes?
Checking my research plan or revising the draft for my interviews, but I am grateful I could also ask for help on more personal matters, and get support all the same.
Q 9. How long before application did you start preparing your research plan?
I considered the theme about 6 months before application. At the beginning, the hardest part was its setting. I consulted several studies and specialized books, and started narrowing the theme little by little. Once I got my theme; I started writing.
Q 10.Did you also make preparations for the admission interview and exam at ARC?
I really prepared a lot for the admission interview in ARC. Keigo (honorific expressions), politeness, the course of the interview itself, I really learned plenty of useful things. For what concerns the written exam, in my case I did not have the short essay, but getting familiar with the short essay structure taught me to express ideas in a grammatically logic way.
Q 11. How many universities did you apply to?
To Waseda University only.
Q 12. How did you feel when you got accepted?
I was happy but also anxious. I did not know whether I would be able to do research on my own in Waseda.
Q 13. How many international students are taking the same major there?
As far as I know, including the PhD course, there is only 5 of us.
Q 14. What are classes like in Graduate School? What is your daily routine like?
We have many classes starting from 10:40am; for this reason, if you wake up early, you can do a lot of work in the morning. I usually wake up early to do some pronunciation or listening exercises; sometimes I also do some sport. Depending on the school, the number of credits needed for graduation differ. Besides the compulsory subjects, I am also taking classes I am simply interested in, for a total of 11 class hours per week. I believe the biggest difference between University and Graduate School, is that the center of attention switches from the teacher to the students. As I am taking a major in humanities, I have to read many specific texts per week; for this reason, I am using my time after classes and in the evening to do my readings.
Q 15. What are your plans after graduation?
I want to go home and become a Japanese language teacher in high school.
Q 16. Do you have any message to other ARC students?
I want to say to students who are now preparing for admission exams and those who have already finished, to read books. For students, it is always vital to read. I recommend not to focus only on one’s specialization, but to read about a wide range of topics. Reading is surely going to be of help with study and research.
Pushed by different dreams and motivations, you came to Japan and chose to go on to Graduate School., but you have to work hard for it. Some of you are probably tired of this old cliché “for your dreams”, but I honestly believe I was lucky to have a dream that kept me motivated. Work hard and do your best for whatever reason keeps you going!