Jumbo Exchange: Good choice?

One of the questions people ask me a lot is “How do you like Tufts?” Usually, I just answer “I love it!” without a second thought.

Today, I am going to ask myself the same question and think about it more deeply, looking back to the days that I have spent here for the last five months.

To be perfectly honest, I am really happy with Tufts as a place for me to study abroad at. I feel that I have learned a lot of things throughout the last semester. This semester, I have been able to take courses that I enjoy as well. That is not only because of the Tufts faculty, but also because of the highly motivated students here.

Having a keen interest in their academics, Tufts students study hard both inside and outside of class. Therefore, they are well familiar with what they do. Compared to my peers back home in Japan, I feel that students here dedicate much more time to schoolwork and studying in general. This is one of the biggest cultural shocks that I have encountered since my arrival in the States and is something that I could not have experienced unless I went abroad. Being in this environment keeps pushing me to work hard, which I really appreciate.

Tufts is also a good place to study my major, international relations (IR). It is always interesting to learn about IR from a Western or American perspective and to compare that to what I have studied in Japan. It is not only simply fun, but also extremely helpful to see an issue from different angles, which gives me a broader perspective and a more comprehensive understanding of my academic area.

This may sound obvious, but it is exciting to live and study with students of different backgrounds and identities, including race, religion and so forth. Although Japan has several minority ethnic groups, it is a homogeneous society for the most part. In Japan, most of the population are ethnic Japanese, who generally speak only Japanese and are not too religious. Not surprisingly, I used to study with Japanese students and was taught mostly by Japanese professors. I hear the same kind of stories from my peers on exchange in other parts of the world as well.

As many people criticize, there is a lot to be desired at Tufts when it comes to diversity on campus, but it has a significant number of international students. Tufts students have the opportunity to mingle with students coming from outside of the States. Plus, one of the best parts of studying in a city like Boston is that people here are welcoming and tolerant of other cultures. I have not been made to feel uncomfortable by others.

Finally, the social life here has also been enjoyable. Plenty of events happen on and around campus. Even though I mentioned last week the lack of organizations for exchange students, there are actually many clubs and activities that one can join. I am going to talk more about that next week — stay tuned.