Alumni Reflections: Jacalyn Li

Studying at International Christian University (ICU) was very different from studying at my home university, University of California San Diego (UCSD). First, I received much less homework from my classes, and the exams were much easier and shorter as well. However, there was a much higher emphasis placed on attendance. Second, I noticed that there was not as much discussion in the lecture classes.

Because of my time spent at ICU, I now have more options in terms of academic pursuits and career objectives. Specifically, my interpreting class was a very impactful experience. Currently, my major is computer engineering, and my career plan is to become a software engineer. I still love computer engineering, but I would also like to explore Japanese-English interpreting as a career path, possibly as an in-house interpreter for a tech company.

In addition to academics, I had the opportunity to participate in a variety of extracurricular activities. My two weekly activities were language tables and Japanese traditional dance.  I was involved in language exchange programs back at UCSD as well, so it was interesting to experience the same type of activity at ICU.  My other club was Japanese traditional dance. Even though I would only be in the club for one semester, they taught me a simple dance and I was able to perform with the other international students at the ICU Festival.

I also had the unexpected opportunity to volunteer in Nagano to assist with the typhoon relief efforts after Typhoon No.19. I learned a lot about the Japanese volunteering system, how powerful nature can be, and how important volunteers are in saving the flooded area. Because of this experience, I want to learn more about disaster prevention and ways that I can use my specialty of computer engineering to improve the current system.

After winter break, I am very excited to get back to my computer engineering classes next semester. ICU specializes in the humanities and does not have many computer engineering courses, so I did not take any this semester. I am also excited for my Japanese courses. Before studying abroad, I was frustrated because my Japanese was not improving. This was because I was taking classes without a goal in mind, and therefore was not challenging myself. However, because of my study abroad experience, my new goal is to become an interpreter, so I was able to find a lot of room for improvement in my Japanese.

It is not an exaggeration to say that having the chance to study abroad has changed the course of my life plans. Personally, I was able to test out my Japanese skills, how independent I could become, and daily life in Japan.

–Jacalyn Li (Watanabe Scholar ’19)