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Study Abroad - From WASEDA to the world -

From Waseda to Italy

Ms.Yuko Fukuyama
2nd year of Ph.D. Program Graduate School of Letters, Arts and Sciences

Encounter with Italy during undergraduate school

"I have been interested in Europe since I was a child, but I never thought that I would become this infatuated with Italy," laughs Ms. Fukuyama. During her first year at university, Ms. Fukuyama happened to enroll in a course taught by Professor Masao Kobayashi (Graduate School of Letters, Arts and Sciences), who now serves as her guidance counselor. Ms. Fukuyama participated in a study tour of Italy which was held by the Waseda University Institute for Mediterranean Studies, where Professor Kobayashi serves as Director. Ms. Fukuyama's interest in Italy began from the impression she received upon touring ancient sites of the Roman Era. After this experience, Ms. Fukuyama spent her time as a student involved mainly in the activities of the Trampoline club. However, her eyes were opened to the appeal of Roman history due to an elective course which she enrolled in during her third year at university. "Even at that time, I never imagined that I would enter the Doctoral Program", says Ms. Fukuyama. Afterwards, she applied to Waseda University's foreign exchange student program and was accepted on the precondition of enrollment in the Doctoral Program. Ms. Fukuyama spent the first year of her doctoral study, from September 2007 to July 2008, as a foreign exchange student in the Literature & Philosophy School of the University of Florence in Italy.

Becoming devoted to epigraphy in Florence!

There are many reasons why Ms. Fukuyama, a researcher in ancient Roman history, chose to study abroad in Florence. These reasons included a rich university environment with 5 academic staff members who specialized in Roman history, as well as high availability of the library and research facilities. Other reasons included a relaxed town environment which was conducive to concentrated studying, outstanding access to other cities, and a convenient location to conduct field surveys in rural towns. Ms. Fukuyama was able to visit many historical sites and collect information during short trips made as part of class extracurricular activities and on her own free time. She studied subjects such as Roman history, archaeology, art history, and topography in her classes at the University of Florence. Ms. Fukuyama says that a class dealing with epigraphy left her with the greatest impression. Full of aspects unique to Italy, this class sought to revive the voices of ancient Romans from stone monuments and inscriptions. As part of the class, Ms. Fukuyama interpreted actual epigraphs of museums and historical sites, and engaged with Italian graduate students while debating the meaning of epigraphs which resembled an encrypted code. "During classes in Italy, focus was placed on the clarity of logic. It was like having a living historical scroll unfolded before my very eyes, and I reaffirmed my interest in historical research", says Ms. Fukuyama. The inspiration received during her time in Italy continues to serve as a source for her research activities after returning to Japan.

Foreign study supported by friends

"During my time as a foreign exchange student, my studies were very difficult. Large amounts of study and knowledge were required, and I worked fervently every day", recalls Ms. Fukuyama. However, she also points out a merit of studying at a foreign graduate school. "Since we studied a specialized subject in a small group, it was natural for me to make friends with common interests, and we never lacked in topics for conversation." In order to make the most of her brief period of foreign study in Italy, Ms. Fukuyama studied Italian for 2 years at Waseda University. She also prepared for her foreign study in other ways, such as by corresponding with instructors at the University of Florence even before her trip. However, once in Italy, she received a great deal of help from Italian friends, both during class and while doing homework. "My foreign study in Italy was supported by relationships with many people, both in terms of my research and in daily life," says Ms. Fukuyama, who will never forget her gratitude towards those who helped her. She experienced some unexpected accidents while in Italy, such as a sudden rupturing of the water pipe in the room above her apartment. Ms. Fukuyama was able to overcome such incidents thanks to her natural energy. In between her studies, she also found time to enjoy life in Italy. She refreshed herself through various activities, such as going to soccer games with classmates and attending the opera. Ms. Fukuyama left us with the following message: "Italian universities have mainly oral examinations, so it is very difficult for foreign students to prepare for classes and examinations. However, I formed bonds of friendship with Italian students while preparing for class and studying for examinations, and I will treasure these bonds for the rest of my life."

(Offered by WASEDA WEEKLY)