Jun Yanagasawa is a different young man than the culture-shocked student I met a couple of years ago. He’s a little taller, a little broader in the shoulders, and a lot more confident.
Jun comes from a semi-rural area, but moved to Tokyo to study at the Khanda Institue of Foreign Languages. After completing his studies there, he attended Grossmont Community College in San Diego. Not being able to transfer directly to a university, he came to ALCI in order to matriculate under our agreement with CSUSM. Thinking he could directly start taking university courses, he was stunned to find himself placed in our program. To combat his depression, and he began working out. Now, he appreciates the time he spent with ALCI and how much it prepared him for the challenges of university classes, which were far more difficult than he had imagined.
Jun has always been interested in people, and this curiosity set him on a path to major in psychology, which he really became interested in while reading a friend’s anthropology textbook. Determined to satisfy his curiosity, he goes beyond his comfort zone to avail himself of as many opportunities as he can, such as talking to strangers, making friends from different parts of the globe, being a student volunteer, and joining a hockey team, the No Stars, of which he is not only the sole international member, but the youngest as well.
School is not the only way to learn, he says, and I know that some of his most important lessons have not been acquired in the classroom. Perhaps the most important lesson he learned was the necessity of having balance in his life. He discovered that spending all of his time studying was not the way to be his most productive, and now he devotes an appropriate amount of time to friends, exercise, and academic pursuits.
While he plans to return to Japan for the summer, he will return to finish his BA and then earn his MA in Psychology. Chasing his dreams, pushing himself to make international friends, being open to new adventures, and being willing to make mistakes have all played an important role in his mastering English and preparing himself for his future.
Hardships make good stories, and I know that Jun has many interesting stories to tell. He will say that he is not special in any way, and perhaps he is no more special than the rest of us. He is, however, an example of someone living his best life.
Interviewed by Elizabeth Sansom