洋々LABO > インタビュー > Interview with a Sophia FLA student


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Hi everybody! I am back from the Golden Week with another edition of student interview. I had the pleasure to talk with Nanami Yoshimoto, who is a student at Sophia University in the faculty of Liberal Arts. We talked about her experience with the admission and general life as a FLA student.

Thank you very much for your time. To start off, could you please introduce yourself to our readers?
I am Nanami Yoshimoto. I am a student of faculty of liberal arts in Sophia University. I am going to be a sociology major this year. But I haven’t decided yet. I was born and raised in Japan. I studied abroad in Oregon States in the US from my first to second year in high school.

“Oregon also has the best coffee.”

How was your study abroad?
It was awesome. I loved it. It’s very different from here. It’s very quiet. Not a city. Not a town. Pretty much nothing there, but people there are very nice. I like the people there and the atmosphere. I went hiking for the first time. Also surfing and camping. Basically, outdoor activities, because we usually don’t do it here [in Japan]. Oregon also has the best coffee.

Why did you decide to attend Sophia University – Faculty of Liberal Arts?
Sophia FLA was my first choice, because I wanted to study liberal arts somewhere in Japan. FLA is famous for smaller classes and I heard that the professor-student relationship is closer than in SILS. They also have a lot of international students. I was told good things about FLA from my Senpai. Lastly, I was familiar with the school because I attended the open campus.

Admission Process

At the end, you applied for Sophia FLA and got in. How was the whole application process? Did you prepare a lot in advance?
It was stressful. I applied with the (Kobo) Suisen, the recommendation method. It’s mostly for Japanese students who graduated from Japanese high school. Even though I studied abroad I was technically still part of the Japanese high school. For this application, I needed a TOEFL score. I studied for it in my whole third year in high school. GPA, a English written essay, taking an English test and interview was also required. I think the minimum requirement for the TOEFL was 78 points.

What was the English test about?
It was a 60 minutes test. We were given a topic we had to write about. Before the test, I worked hard on my writing and I did pretty much what I got used to do during it.

“There are only a few like me who are pure Japanese.”

And the interview?
It was about 15 minutes. They asked me why I am applying, if I have ever studied abroad. I think the purpose of the interview is to check whether you can speak English or not because all lectures are going to be in English. That was also one of the reasons why I applied. Most of the students in FLA are actually (Japanese) returnees who has some sort of experience living abroad. There are only a few like me who are pure Japanese. Most of my friends have been living abroad for at least 10 years.

You are quite fluent in English. How did you achieve that?
I basically learned English by studying abroad in those 10 months. I only had Eiken 2 Kyu before which is pretty normal. When I came back, I studied for Eiken and then for TOEFL. In my free time I used a TOEFL vocab app and listened to it whenever I had time like on the train. I also wrote a lot. I used the topics from TOEFL and Ippan Nyushi to practice writing.

When did you start preparing for the admission?
The preparation was hell because I had to write so much essays by hand. It took a whole summer. For the extracurricular activities, I established a debate club and joined the regional competition with the members. But we lost.

Anything else about the admission, you would like to let others know?
Study for the TOEFL. Get at least 90. In order to apply for Japanese universities, I also practice on my Japanese writing. That way it helped me to think in both English and Japanese.

About Youyou

You were a former Youyou student. How was the experience with our services?
I was a Youyou student in 2017. It was for SFC, FIT and another university. It was so helpful. I met other students who were also applying for SFC. We talked and shared experiences.

“I learned how to think and apply it in real world scenarios.”

In which area did you feel you made improvement after taking our courses?
Maybe the way of thinking. How to deepen my interests and finding the actual problem. Break down the problem and find a way I can contribute to solve it.

I was doing volunteering work at a nursing home for disabled people. I visited nursing homes and talked to the foreign workers because I wanted to solve the problem of treatment of foreign workers. I knew that a lot of foreigners come to Japan to work in nursing homes. There are a lot of problems between the Japanese and foreign workers. They get no help from the company. I focused on the issue of housing of the foreign workers. I wanted to find a way where Japanese students can work in nursing homes and help foreign workers. In exchange, the foreign workers can talk to the students about any problems they have. I used that topic in my essay.

In the courses by talking to my mentor, Shimizu-san and Eguchi-san, I learned how to think and apply it in real world scenarios.

Anything you think Youyou can do better?
I think the opening hours can be longer on Saturday. 7 o’clock is a bit early for students. I remember I wanted to stay longer.

Life at Sophia FLA

How is your student life at Sophia FLA so far? Did it meet your expectation?
It is amazing. I love it. My faculty is more diverse than I expected. I can meet people not only from Asian countries, but also from Europe, America, Pakistan. Quite international. On the other hand, every day I feel my English is bad. Before I had a GPA of 5.0 and I thought I was smart, but it is harder than I expected in FLA. I am taking two mandatory classes right now and I have to write an essay of 1000 words every week. I have also a bunch of readings from other classes. Presentation and essays. It’s very hard.

Are you participating in any activities, clubs, communities? If so, how is it?
Yes, I am doing dance circles. Many students said that you cannot do baito and circles at the same time because it would be too much. But I am doing both. I am doing Airbnb, accessories business and tutoring. Currently, I am also doing a new job, kind of like a job-hunting support company. Many people think FLA is all about studying, but it’s not.

The courses are taught in English? Are you happy with the quality?
I am happy with it because most of the professors are non-Japanese.

“FLA is more like an American school.”

Has studying at Sophia FLA so far changed you in any way? Anything particular you learned about yourself?
It’s completely different from my high school because in high school we had to memorize everything. In America there is more writing. FLA is more like an American school. We have a lot of writing. It’s actually a lot of work. Memorization is the basis. I also learned how to express myself, how to speak. Even though I am not confident, try to be confident. There are many different types of people. I don’t judge people by how they look and speak.

Are there any last words you would like to share for students who would like to study at Sophia FLA?
You can meet many people. It’s quite international. You will study hard you can do whatever you want to do if you want to. Our university is flexible. I am sure you will enjoy it.

Thank you for your time, Nanami.

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Simon has worked in the IT industry for 9 years as an IT Product Manager. In 2018, he was chosen by the Swiss-Japanese Chamber of Commerce to receive the prestigious scholarship and consequently moved to Japan from Switzerland to learn more about the country and the culture. He has a huge passion to make a positive impact in people’s life which shows in his engagement in various volunteering activities.