Year in Asia is the College of Asia and the Pacific’s flagship program which allows students to immerse themselves in the language and culture of their chosen country for up to 12 months. We asked Shaw Kudo, a 2015 graduate of a double degree in Asia-Pacific Studies and Engineering and the precursor to the current Year in Asia program, the graduate diploma in Asia-Pacific Studies, what he thought of the program and how he thinks it has benefited his career since.
Kyoto University in Kyoto, Japan.
Part of the reason I chose to study at the ANU College of Asia and the Pacific was for the opportunity to be part of the Year in Asia program. Coming from an Asian-Australian background, I always wanted to immerse myself in Japan and live there for an extended period to improve my language skills and enrich my cultural understanding. Having also attended a Japanese primary school for five years, I was keen to compare those experiences to university level education in Japan. The Year in Asia program provided this fantastic opportunity. The benefits included being forced out of your comfort zone and learning the language through coursework, but also having the opportunity to make new friends and experience life in a completely different culture to Australia. It's an unforgettable experience.
I really didn't expect to form such strong friendships with people from all over the world and to meet so many likeminded people. Kyoto University is a highly competitive university domestically that also attracts many international students. I was able to meet people with different backgrounds and different ideas, which further developed my own thinking. I also didn't expect to develop my Japanese fluency to the degree where I was able to pass the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (N1) exam. I also did not think I would have had the chance to go on an overnight learning excursion with Kyoto University to Shikoku (for free), either!
Currently, I work as an engineer at Arup, a global design and engineering consultancy firm. A large part of my role involves communicating complex ideas to clients in simple language. I believe one of the most important skills I developed during my Year in Asia was communication, and I continue to draw on my experiences from my Year in Asia trying to communicate in Japanese - or English - to people who may not speak English or Japanese as their first language. I also think that my Year in Asia experience reemphasised the importance of diversity of ideas, and I now actively seek environments that will encourage this.
Definitely do it. It can be a challenging experience at times, but it is one of the most fun and most rewarding experiences you can have as an undergraduate.