While departing Tokyo and looking down at the beautiful city where she has spent one semester, every scene from the first day she arrived in Japan till the very moment, started to flash back in Zhou Jingjie’s mind. The opportunity to study at Waseda University through a WHU exchange program is destined to change her future.
Zhou Jingjie in her favorite Yukata
More haste, less speed
Zhou Jingjie is a tall and beautiful girl from the Economics and Management School of WHU. Before stepping into the university, she and her parents made a plan that she would participate in the exchange program at least once during her bachelor years. It was during the second semester of her sophomore year that she thought–“now is the time”.
“I had a terrible semester before I went to Tokyo. As a student who has changed her major, I had to make up all the lessons I missed. I was under a lot pressure each and every day. Being too hard on myself made my health get worse.” After an unhappy semester, Zhou decided to slow down and try a new lifestyle.
She chose the School of International Liberal Studies (SILS) of Waseda University. The teaching language there is English, and students from different cultural backgrounds create an ideal international atmosphere for her to study in. With her outstanding English listening and speaking skills, Zhou conquered language barriers and made friends from various countries.
Although her original intention was to try a different lifestyle, her self-disciplined nature made her persist in taking some demanding courses like Calculus 2. In the first class, the professor emphasized its difficulty and suggested students who hadn’t taken Calculus 1 to drop out. However, Zhou remained the few who held on till the end of the semester and topped the class in the final exam. While chatting with the professor, she told him that Calculus in WHU is taught at a much faster pace and higher difficulty level, which made him astonished.
Through this Zhou sees the huge difference between the education of China and Japan, though neither of them is absolutely right or wrong. They are only the results of different education systems. In SILS, students gain basic knowledge of different fields and find what they really love in undergraduate school, and then further their study in graduate school. However, in China, there are many more students in universities so it’s hard for teachers to slow down their pace and fully tap students’ potentials in accordance to their aptitude. “Even so,” Zhou added, “we still need to give students a clear idea of the courses’ structures and help them be clear-minded about what they are going to learn.” For example, professors in Waseda University give detailed explanation of what students are going to learn at the beginning of each lecture. However, some Chinese professors don’t organize their thoughts like that.
Zhou Jingjie performed excellently in Waseda University
Real changes: feeling the soul of Japan
In her spare time, Zhou never missed an opportunity to travel. From Tokyo to Hokkaido, her footprints spread across. The most impressive trip is the one to Nagano organized by Waseda University. She experienced so many “firsts” on this trip, unforgettable memories such as rice transplanting, pottery and noodle making. After arriving there, she found that most Japanese parents would send their children to the school in Nagano for a period of time to let them get closer to nature as well as to learn more about Japanese traditional culture. Growing up in a Chinese city, Zhou had never experienced such activities. A Japanese child encouraged her to walk into the mud to help with the farm work. She spent half an hour but just transplanted three rows of rice seedlings. After that, she realizes how hard farmers’ work was and determines to abandon the bad habit of wasting food. “If only every Chinese children had such an experience!” said Zhou.
A gentle breeze among blooming sunflowers
Another unforgettable trip is to Hiroshima, where the United States dropped a nuclear bomb. “Now Hiroshima is a quiet city. I cannot imagine the tragedy that happened there.” She visited the memorial hall of the war. “Compared with the Memorial Hall of the victims in the Nanjing Massacre, the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum shows the tragedy in a more direct way. The burned skin and the black rain make you feel the fear of people and their miseries of losing families.” Facing this kind of tragedy, this girl, whose grandpa is a soldier, couldn’t help praying for peace of the whole world at that moment.
The real Hiroshima
The colorful life in Japan also taught her to find the multiple layers of life. “My life became more regular and healthy. I would not mind chatting with my friend for 3 hours now because it helps me relax.” Now that she has been back to the WHU campus for several months, the broadened horizon not only relieves her stress, but also appeases her mind.
（Photo by Zhou Jingjie, Edited by Zhang Ran, Edmund Wai Man Lai）