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Living & Learning: Japanese students overseas / A liberal inquirer in an ancient Scottish city

Living & Learning: Japanese students overseas / A libera

Courtesy of Ryoji Shimabukuro
Ryoji Shimabukuro at the university campus

11:32 am, January 30, 2015

By Ryoji Shimabukuro (The University of Edinburgh)/Special to The Japan NewsThis column features reports by Japanese students currently studying overseas on their life on and off campus.

* * *

“Nemo Me Impune Lacessit” (No one assaults me with impunity). I was surprised that even beginner’s level Latin allowed me to read the fancy phrase carved on the old castle’s gate in Edinburgh. This Scottish city, with many historic spots, was the right place for me to test my understanding of what I had learned in lectures at the University of Edinburgh. I still remember the day my Latin professor told us to go to Rome on weekends if we ran out of practice questions. This would be interpreted as a joke in Japan, but not necessarily in Edinburgh.

The most exciting moment at this university is when I feel the dynamics and interconnection between things I have learned. Learning Latin doesn’t only allow me to read ancient texts, but also enables me to remember key terms that appear in international law lectures, such as “aequo et bono” and “ius cogens.”


With strong confidence, I also can say, the knowledge is not impractical trivia, but has a strong meaning in the reality surrounding me. While looking at the demonstrations and “YES” posters for the independence movement from Britain in September last year, I glanced up at the statue of Adam Smith on the Mile. (By the way, he was born in Scotland and lectured at the University of Edinburgh.) At that moment, his ideal image of a laissez-fair economy and the political goal, which recent demonstrators tried to achieve, seemed to overlap in my eye ...

Interactions with my colleagues are also meaningful events for me in terms of turning a spotlight on weaknesses in my knowledge. I was impressed with my Thai friend who tried to explain the reason for Japan’s successful technological growth from a linguistic approach. According to him, because Japanese were able to import technological terms directly (by using katakana), they could absorb the knowledge efficiently and develop dramatically. This type of perspective might be difficult to notice if I were studying in Japan.

I believe the significance of studying abroad is an opportunity to deepen my knowledge about the things that interest me, and sometimes practice or revise them in real life. Both the geographical and human conditions of Edinburgh are perfect for one who wishes to develop his or her own philosophy, and that led me to study here.

= = =

The University of Edinburgh

Founded in 1583, the University of Edinburgh is the sixth-oldest university in the English-speaking world. It comprises 21 schools at three colleges, offering more than 350 undergraduate and 160 postgraduate courses.

In partnership with Ryugaku Fellowship

Source: http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0001812495

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