Editor’s note: This is the first of an occasional series of features, highlighting the experiences of students from Lawrence’s international community. Mitsushi Kawano is from Japan and is in his second year of studying at Lawrence. He came to Lawrence last year in the exchange program between Waseda University in Tokyo and several colleges in the United States. Unlike the rest of the first group of Waseda students at Lawrence, he returned this year for a second year and is currently the teaching assistant for the Japanese language program. Mitsushi hopes to teach English in Japan eventually.
This is the second year for me at Lawrence. I have found many differences between Waseda University, where I go in Japan, and Lawrence University. I feel those differences are significant. Waseda has a huge campus and there are 50,000 students there, while Lawrence is such a small college, which has only 1,200 students. Therefore, the size of the classes is of course different. Oftentimes, there are a couple of hundred students in one classroom at Waseda, whereas there are at most fifty students here.
The relationships between students and professors are also different. Professors are very caring. I do not know all professors here, but at least the professors who I took classes with were always concerned about me. Since my English is not enough to keep pace with regular classes, I often face some problems. I sometimes cannot complete such a huge amount (for me) of reading, sometimes cannot understand lectures, and sometimes have a hard time to participate in class discussions. In those cases, if I go to see the professor of the class, s/he is always happy to help me out in some ways. I am not saying that they give special treatment only to me, but that they always think of some alternatives that seem reasonable for me to do. They never arrange something for me from them, but if I talk to them about my concern and do my best, they always respond to me. Although there are numerous things to prepare for classes, I am very motivated to study thanks to these circumstances such as the small classroom size and great professors.
In contrast, there are so many extremely famous professors who we often see on TV at Waseda and it has extremely good reputation in Japan. Everybody knows Waseda, and people often say that entering Waseda is a guarantee for their rich lives. However, I could never have such good relationships with professors and I have not felt that I am studying at Waseda. In terms of academic aspects, I am much much more satisfied with Lawrence than Waseda.
Nonetheless, Waseda also has good aspects. There are thousands of people from different prefectures gathering at Waseda. They are very unique and interesting. There are no schools other than Waseda that such unique people gather in Japan. Therefore, the students at Waseda engage in a number of activities with unique friends except academic career while they are at school. For that reason, many of Waseda students acquire their special skills in four years. That is surely because Waseda has great circumstances that permit the students to do so. People say that there are 2,000 social clubs, known as “circles,” existing at Waseda, so there are no clubs that people cannot find in particular. Thus, they can find the lifetime-friends who have same goals, interests, ambitions and the like for their lives. I believe that Waseda is one of the best places where one can have socially precious experiences while he is a student. I am very happy that I could have both experiences at Waseda and Lawrence.