We could reconnect with Kai Duttle from Germany, one of our former JSP students from 2009. His memories were so inspiring that we think it would be interesting to share with all of you.
1. Hello Kai, would you mind telling our audiences something about yourself?
I studied economics at the University of Konstanz from where I graduated in 2012. After that I joined a research group at the University of Duisburg-Essen and wrote my doctoral thesis about cross-cultural differences in the behavior of investors in the German and Japanese stock markets. Today I live in Switzerland with my wife and two sons, and work in the financial service industry.
2. How did you know about Japan Studies Program (JSP) at Tokyo International University in the first place?
During my undergraduate studies I also wanted to study abroad. Because I was interested in and fascinated by the Japanese culture as we know it from books and movies, I really wanted to travel to Japan. My home university has an exchange agreement with TIU, so that was the perfect opportunity.
3. What were your reasons for you to choose JSP?
I could choose between the Japan Studies Program at TIU, and an exchange semester at Osaka University. To be honest, I did not have to think for long, and went with JSP. With the homestay, peer assistants, intensive Japanese classes, and cultural field trips, I was convinced it would be the best way to experience Japan. And today I am still glad I made that choice.
4. What was your best memories joining JSP?
I loved the Japanese lectures with Magara-Sensei, Uno-Sensei and Shiotani-Sensei. We must have been the ichiban most entertaining class in JSP history. I also loved the times after class, when everyone met in the lounge, played Mario Kart on their Nintendo DS and invited Japanese students for a long night at Karaoke ALL. And not to forget, I loved the many evenings I spent with my host parents, drinking shochu while watching baseball or talking about history and politics.
5. What was your weirdest/funniest encounter in Japan?
There are countless examples. People wearing masks to not pass on their flu, dogs driving around in shopping carts, pushers that try to get everyone in the trains at rush hour, me having to shout “tadaima” as loud as I can the second I enter the house. I got used to most of them within the first month. But what surprised me until the last day was the endless variety of weird and funny things you can buy in 100 Yen shops. I have seen everything, from a katana-shaped umbrella to plush toys shaped as poo.
6. How did the experience influence your life now?
The seed which was my fascination for Japan when I joined JSP grew into a large tree. I still have frequent contact to my (host) family and friends in Japan and from other countries, and even met them here in Germany. The research project for my doctoral thesis was motivated by my experience during JSP. It will always be my most favorite travel location, and whenever I have the chance, I will return to my “second home”.
7. Do you have any tip for the current JSP students of Fall semester 2016?
Try to enjoy every single moment, and (if possible) do not mind spending the extra 3’000 Yen on the tabehodai event at the Okonomiyaki place. You will have the best time of your life, and you will meet great people. Go on the field trip to Kansai and feed the monkeys at Miyajima (well, better not do that!). Take advantage of the many, many events offered by your coordinators. Miss the last train at your night out in Roppongi, and take a bath in an onsen at least once. However, while doing all that, never forget to spend time with your host family and talk to them as much as possible. Also: clean your room!
8. Did you have any chance to return to Japan after the program? Any plan to visit soon?
In my research group I had the funding to conduct behavioral experiments in Japan. So I stayed in Osaka for some weeks during 2014 and 2015, respectively. Both times I visited my JSP host parents in Saitama for a few days, and also met old friends from TIU. So nostalgic! I will certainly visit again, this time with my whole family on board.
We would be so delighted to welcome you back to visit TIU. With the development of JSP, and the introduction of E-Track program (degree seeking courses offered fully in English), we have an increasing number of international students from all over the world. We would love to show you the new and exciting evolution of TIU. We hope we can always keep in touch and we wish you all the best!