Van Nguyen (Art)
Please introduce yourself.
Hello my name is Van, and I'm from Vietnam. I'm now an art student here at TUJ in the Tyler School of Art.
Did you transfer from Main Campus?
I came here directly from my country.
Do you plan on studying at Main Campus one day?
I'll definitely think about it. I'm in my very first year, so a lot might happen while I study here.
What do you think about Japan so far?
Japanese people are so nice and very helpful. When I first arrived, I didn't know much, especially the subway system and getting around. When they find out that I'm a foreigner, they even try to speak in English to me.
Did you study any Japanese before you came here?
Yes, I studied it back in Vietnam. I can speak daily conversational Japanese.
Is that one of the reasons why you decided to come to Japan? Because you studied the language in school?
Actually, I chose to study Japanese because I knew I wanted to come to Japan.
Why Japan then?
I want to work in the fashion industry or possibly in art as an illustrator. As you know, Tokyo is the fashion capital of Asia. The Japanese style is so different compared to New York, France, or Italy. For Japanese, fashion is not always about what brand you are wearing, but how you wear it and how you present your individual personality through the way you dress. I found that idea very inspiring, and that's why I wanted to come here, to learn more about the fashion culture.
Do you plan to stay in Japan after TUJ?
I'm thinking about other schools in the future, too. I want to be a fashion designer, so I have more opportunity to develop my career here in Japan. If I can, I'd love to do it here.
How did you find out about TUJ?
After graduating from high school, I'd have conversations with friends and complain to them that I really wanted to go to Japan, but my language ability wasn't good enough. In Vietnam, studying English is more popular, and Japanese was just a minor subject for me; I just wanted to learn it. So my Japanese ability wasn't good enough to apply to a Japanese university. But, one day, my friend told me that she found just the right school for me and that they even had an art program. So I dug up some more information, applied, and now I'm here!
Lately, there seems to be a lot of collaboration and mutual interest between Japanese and Vietnamese businesses and organizations.
Yeah, actually, I took part in a Japanese social exchange program when I was back in Vietnam. Do you know yosakoi? It's a traditional Japanese dance from Kochi in Shikoku, southeast of Tokyo. It's very popular in Vietnam. I've been a yosakoi dancer for almost four years now. This is also another reason why I wanted to come to Japan. I'm joining a Japanese team this year, and we'll be performing in Harajuku this summer.
How did you first get involved with the dance team?
It was part of cultural exchange between our countries. The Japanese government sent some dancers to Vietnam to teach these volunteers that worked at the Japanese centers. These people would then teach others and form their own groups. Now, we have many. I've been dancing since 2011. It was such a coincidence how I discovered it actually. My friend asked me to go to a festival with her, and it was there that I was first exposed to yosakoi. It's so full of energy, and all the dancers have such big smiles on their faces. I felt such happiness watching it and decided I wanted to do it as well.
What do you like most about living and studying here?
I'm studying at an American university in Japan, so I get to speak English here and speak Japanese outside and at work (I have a part-time job). It makes things very interesting! Also, as I mentioned earlier, everyone is just very nice and everything here is very automatic and convenient. I find it very safe and comfortable living here.
What do you think about the art program here so far?
I really like it. The professors are really nice and helpful. There are many studio classes and fewer theory/lecture ones. You get to learn while you work. If you have any questions or problems, the professors are always there for you. We also learn how to properly critique so we can develop our skills.
Do you have any advice for new students?
Keep challenging yourself and don't be afraid to try new things. We're still young and have plenty of time, but just don't waste it!