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Study Abroad - From WASEDA to the world -

From WASEDA to Canada

Mr. Nobutoshi Araya
2009 Graduate from the School of International Liberal Studies

The author weighs and packs one week's worth of rations

I can hear the sound of the wind. There is not a single sound of automobiles. There is not a single manmade object anywhere in sight and raw, untouched nature spreads before my eyes. This is the first time in my life that I have encountered true nature. It is fascinating how nature can be both kind and severe.

I was among the first group of students to participate in the "Outdoor & Leadership Program: Summer Short-Term Study Abroad Program in the Yukon wilderness in Canada" (commonly known as the "Yukon Program"). The program was started in summer of 2008. I have fond memories of studying at Yukon College and visiting a dog musher. However, the most appealing part of this program is the field study which provides an opportunity to learn practical outdoor skills while spending a week in the Yukon wilderness.

Participants shoulder a 20 kilogram backpack and walk through vast untouched nature. Despite being described as "hiking", the route offers a considerable challenge to students. Of course, there are no paths in this area and hikers in the group simply follow in the footsteps of the leader. The program is an adventure unlike anything that can be experienced in Japan. I decided to participate because I was drawn by the catch phrase of "study leadership in the wilderness." I was about to graduate and had already found employment before participating in the program. Although the job-searching experience had helped me to understand myself better, I was still unsure about the true nature of my inner self, and felt unsure about entering the workforce with such uncertainty, and the Yukon Program was a chance for me to reflect upon myself.

While spending time on the plain, I cooked food with fellow participants, talked with instructors who had chosen to live their life in nature and spent time thinking by myself. Strangely enough, being in nature makes it possible to intently confront one's own self. I was surprised countless times at the clarity of a world without even a single manmade sound.

On the final day of the outdoor program, participants receive feedback from instructors who went along on the hike. I received the following comments: "You are a natural leader, Nobu. You do not pull people along with energy; instead, you naturally draw people towards you. That is your appeal as a leader." That was the moment I found the true nature of my inner self that I had been searching for.

The program allows participants to experience true nature and to make good friends. It also provides an opportunity to honestly reflect upon one's self. Since you spend your entire life living with yourself, having a good understanding of yourself is of the utmost importance. Personally, the Yukon Program allowed me to discover and remain my true self even after starting work with people of different backgrounds and values. This summer, why don't you embark on a journey through the wilderness in the Yukon? Even students with no outdoor experience can participate with confidence. You are sure to learn something of great importance!

Walking through the Yukon wilderness

Outdoor cooking

Program Introduction

Waseda-net Portal is accepting registration for the 2011 Summer Short-Term Program until May 30th (Monday). For more details, please check the website of the Center for International Education listed below.

Waseda University Center for International Education (CIE)

(Offered by WASEDA WEEKLY)