Impressions of PEAK: Before & After
By Chris Jeon
On 27 September 2013, I was simultaneously introduced to both the difficulties of transitioning to university life in a foreign country and the unique qualities of the University of Tokyo that made that transition so much easier.
After graduating high school and heading into what would be my final summer vacation of my grade school days, I was faced with the enviable task of making the most out of the time I had before I would be heading off to university. While that didn’t exactly work out the way I had hoped it to – seeing as the majority of my time was spent “resting” at home, meeting people, and making sporadic forays into the realm of “studying” – I still found consolation in the fact that I was becoming increasingly excited for the new school year, which would be my chance to finally attempt to be productive once again.
However, I soon realized that this would be the first time that I would leave my family for an extended period of time, and as I’m sure is the case for many students who go abroad to study for the first time, I felt nervous. I suddenly felt uncomfortable about going to Japan, a land that, to me, was as famous for its cultural beauty and high standard of Asian modernization as it was for its recent development of a rather bizarre culture. This, coupled with the worries about the radioactivity that were so hyped up in Korea actually led me to have second thoughts about coming to the University of Tokyo.
I am well aware that my experience is not a unique one. Every year, hundreds of thousands of students from countries all over the world go to foreign countries to study in different educational systems/institutions, and I am sure that many of those students had their own doubts and worries about issues that may or may not be similar to my own. However, to the students who are currently thinking about or have already applied to the PEAK Program at the University of Tokyo, rest assured, you will not be in want of a more helpful environment to make a seamless transition into university life.
Any worries that I might have had quickly dissipated when I finally stepped out of the exit gate at the airport. Greeted by the friendly members of the Todai Global Interaction Friends (TGIF), I had no trouble in making way to the International Lodge, where the staff members there were kind enough to have helped me out with any questions that I might have had. The senpais, with their additional year of PEAK and non-PEAK-related wisdom, were also extremely helpful and friendly; they were extremely active in trying help the first-year students by any means necessary.
Speaking of the first-year students, the journey that is the life at Todai would have been extremely difficult if not for the love and support from the people that are currently undergoing the same struggles that I am encountering. The small class sizes helped us to bond, and that in turn makes life that much more exciting.
Starting a new life in a new country in a new environment surrounded by new people can be tough, but help from those new people can go a long way in helping one to become acclimatized to one’s surroundings, which in turn can influence one to step out of their newfound comfort zone and explore the country around them.
Chris is a first-year PEAK student at the College of Arts and Sciences, University of Tokyo.