- Entering Soka University through the Bekka Program
Entering Soka University through the Bekka Program
Kouichi Uruma is from Los Angeles, California. He came to Japan to study Japanese in the Bekka program in 2017. After graduating from the Bekka program, he officially entered Soka University Faculty of Education.
When was the first time you studied Japanese?
I first started studying Japanese was in the first grade. I attended Japanese school, that was held every Saturday. It was natural for me because my parents spoke Japanese. I didn't like studying Japanese, to be honest. To me, it felt like I had extra homework from my friends. I’m more of Japanese-American, never thought myself as an American because I knew both cultures and it was easy to adapt to Japanese culture.
What motivated you to come to Japan?
Quite frankly, I really didn't know what I wanted to do in the future. My Parents persuaded me to try the Bekka program at Soka University. The one-year program was more like a trial and see what it would do. If the one year was enough for me then I would’ve gone back to America. All in all, the motivation was more like finding what I wanted to do.
Was it a plus?
It definitely was because I see myself as Japanese, I felt that I knew Japan from an ignorant standpoint. Though, after living here for a year, it changed my point of view of Japan and deepened my understanding of this country. This year was definitely a big plus because my perspective of Japan changed and ultimately making the decision to stay in Japan and study.
What is the biggest struggle or challenge of living in Japan?
I think the biggest struggle is financial problems for transportation. In America, because it's a car society, at that moment you don't feel the need of having money on you. I am not saying you don't need money because eventually, you will need to put in gas. In Japan, you have to think about money to go places. For example, you need money to ride the bus to get to the station or riding the train to get to many places further from Hachioji. So, it is harder to go places and see Japan.
What experience have you learned or gained?
When I am in trouble mentally or struggling with studying, I am always able to go to my friends that I have made here. The importance of friends and the trust I have gained by talking to them is one of many experiences.
Any instances when your Japanese wasn't fully conveyed?
I had many situations where I felt that my message was not conveyed. At that time, I felt I wasted my time, but I had to understand that my Japanese is not my first language and there will be times that my Japanese will not be conveyed. I just need to understand that and study Japanese even harder. Many regrets of not learning more Japanese. My path in Soka has really changed me.
Any culture shocks you encountered?
The senpai kouhai relationship. Not just Japan but also for the Koreans. There are many Koreans in Soka but learning there culture too was a definite culture shock. When the kouhai would go to their senpai or RA, they would talk to them politely. And because of age, you would have to act differently. I thought that was very interesting and it was hard to get used to it first but after it was their culture and fun to see other cultures.
One important thing is you won't regret coming to Soka. Of course, you may feel uneasy at first but when you actually experience the highs and the lows your regrets will be gone. You will definitely grow in 6 months, 1 year and so on. Don't be scared and do lots of things while at Soka!
Year and Major:
1st year Education
Takiyama International Dormitory
Bowling and Basketball
Carrie by Stephen King
Favorite Place on Campus:
Pond of Literature