IARUGSP at University of California, Berkeley

by Haruka Tsuchiya

Thanks to the International Alliance of Research Universities, I participated in the Global Summer Program held by University of California Berkeley, and took the course of “Islamophobia and Constructing Otherness”. I’m very grateful to FUTI for the generous scholarship.
My career goal is to go into the diplomatic service and deepen the relationship between Japan and other nations in order to realize the stabler and safer world. Thus it is very important for me to understand Islamophobia, which is often utilized as a political issue and make foreign policies more inward-looking. Experiences in this course provided me with opportunities to learn the way to approach Islamophobia and otherness in the society. It was also precious experience to study about such a theme in Berkeley, where we can enjoy the rich diversity.
This summer program was the first time for me to study abroad for more than a month. Thus of course, I expected very much for this program. However, my experience in Berkeley far exceeded my expectation. The class was consisted of prof. Hatem Bazian and approximately 20 students and the class size was quite small. Therefore we, the students were required to state our own opinions, and participate in the class actively.
The hardest thing during my stay was the large amount of reading assignments. We had to read two hundred pages per one class, and for the first two weeks I really struggled with the assignments. Fortunately I could make friends with wonderful and kind students, and they taught me how to deal with such an amount of materials. Thanks to them my English skill improved my English reading skill.
I stayed in the Bowles Hall on the north side of campus. As I referred before, it is the friends I got there that made my stay wonderful. We studied in the dorm’s library together, went out for movie, climbed the mountain together. We often discuss the international affairs, the domestic problems of US and Japan and personal affairs for many hours till midnight. Such a daily life in Berkeley is as precious memory as the class.
Thorough the program, I got strong confidence to compete with the top elites from all over the world. I stated my opinion as many times as local students, and took a pretty good score in the examination. However. I also realized that I am still inferior to them when conducting group discussion and exercising leadership especially in English. Therefore I’m planning to apply for the long-term exchange program offered by University of Tokyo this autumn. This time I am going to major in political science for my future career. Again thank you for the generous scholarship of FUTI, which make my participation in this IARU-GSP possible.