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Study Abroad - From WASEDA to the world -

From Waseda to Switzerland

Mr.Yusuke Takaoka
3rd Year Student in the Doctoral Program of the Graduate School of Commerce

Coexistence of city and nature

Mr. Takaoka, who specializes in research regarding German though and philosophy, spent a year studying at the University of Zurich as a foreign exchange student. The University of Zurich pairs with the science and engineering oriented Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETHZ, founded in 1855) to form the most reputable university in Switzerland.

For many people, the word "Switzerland" brings to mind a pastoral image. However, when Mr. Takaoka first arrived at the central train station in Zurich, his impression was that "there is a resemblance to the coming and going of people and atmosphere of Shinjuku Station in Tokyo". His previous image of Switzerland was completely overturned by the metropolitan atmosphere seething with people. However, Mr. Takaoka also states that "if you take a 15 minute street car trip to the suburbs, you can see a pastoral view that fits the classic image of Switzerland". In other words, Zurich is a town where people can experience a mixture of city and nature in close proximity.

Living in Zurich

Zurich is a multilingual society in which there are opportunities everyday for communication in German, French and Italian. Mr. Takaoka had particular difficulty with the local Zurich dialect (Swiss German). "I had a very hard time with the loose grammar rules which are unique to Swiss German, as well as with the unique rhythm of the language. Even if someone on the street started a conversation with me, I was unable to communicate to my own satisfaction."

However, even while struggling to communicate precisely in the regional language, Mr. Takaoka always viewed the city of Zurich as an appealing place. "Zurich has a highly developed public transportation system that makes it possible to travel anywhere in comfort. I particularly liked the trams (street cars). In Zurich, the word "cobra" is used to describe the way in which trams move like a snake through the city. I enjoyed riding in these trams to enjoy the views of the city and soak up the atmosphere."

Mr. Takaoka describes Zurich as a multi-dimensional city. "It is possible to see many elements of the city while taking walks and riding in the trams. There are places such as older neighborhoods and churches, rivers and hills that maintain a sense of the past within contemporary times. Next to such places, there are streets decorated with illuminations and with rows of many brand stores. To me, Zurich is a city which maintains the aspect of nature expressed in phrases such as "pastoral country views" and "Heidi of the Alps", while also existing as an environment like some sort of artificially developed theme park at the same time."

Manners of hospitality

During his experience as a foreign exchange student, the spirit of hospitality towards other people left Mr. Takaoka with the greatest impression.

"In Zurich, the students, instructors and staff all listen carefully to what people have to say. I was made to reaffirm the importance of respecting other people, and the experience left me with the desire to develop the manner of listening carefully to the words of others."

Mr. Takaoka was able to experience Switzerland through his foreign study. He sums up his experience in Zurich as follows: "To me, more than anything else, Switzerland is connected with the time spent with friends that I made while studying abroad. My research activities and language studies were conducted within these relationships. In that sense, I now feel almost as if I have acquired another hometown."

(Offered by WASEDA WEEKLY)