The coronavirus pandemic may have wiped out international travel, but many students still feel the pull of crisscrossing the world in search of academic knowledge and the opportunities it affords.
Such is the case with Jakarta-born Jachinta (Jessie) Vidyadari Komala at Temple University, Japan Campus. She is pursuing a psychological studies major and general business studies minor — with the same course content as that of Temple’s main campus in Philadelphia — at TUJ’s campus at Setagaya-ku, the most populous of Tokyo’s 23 wards.
Long fascinated by Japan and its culture, she found her chance to sample it during TUJ’s High School Summer Program in 2018. “That program changed my life,” she says. “It made me realize how strong the sense of community is at TUJ. I am glad to say that this sense of community continued to show itself as I entered the university as a student!”
Today, Komala describes herself as active, driven and always seeking self-improvement — all of which she attributes to her decision to study in Japan. From the famed uber-punctual rail system to the national culture of “shokunin,” (mastery of one’s profession), living here sparked a drive that she could not find back home. “My lifestyle definitely changed for the better when I started living in Japan,” she enthuses.
The availability of courses and degrees in psychology at TUJ simply sweetened the deal for Komala, who describes her calling and passion as helping people. Komala’s goal is to break Indonesia’s enduring stigma on mental health. “I believe that my home country still has a long way to go in terms of mental health, and I would like to help with that in the future,” she explains.
Her favorite class thus far is “Foundations of Developmental Psychology.” “All the Japanese professors (or “sensei,” as we say in Japan) here at TUJ are so encouraging and fun people to be taught by,” she says.
A solid preparation
TUJ’s mission is to equip every student with the tools necessary to imagine, explore, succeed and lead in an ever-changing global workplace. This, and the opportunity to experience a famously extraordinary culture, drew trilingual Brazilian-Italian Giulia Campanha to TUJ.
“TUJ gives you the opportunity to earn an American degree while still experiencing the challenges and adventures of studying abroad in such a different culture such as Japan. Furthermore, I have moved around a lot and I appreciated the idea of having the ability to transfer between Europe, Asia and America,” she says.
Like Komala, Campanha has dreams of helping others. Her role model is the late Sergio Vieira de Mello, a Brazilian United Nations diplomat who was killed in Iraq in 2003. “His success in helping in East Timor was impressive and I want to help the world like he did,” she says.
With a clear intent on graduating early, the political science major takes a six-class course load almost every semester, starting her day at 6.30 a.m. to prepare for classes which begin shortly before 9 a.m. This is followed by back-to-back classes in subjects including “Interpersonal Communication,” “US Foreign Policy,” “Middle Eastern Politics,” “Modern History,” and “Korean Politics,” all of which only end at 7 p.m. She is also a student ambassador.
The seemingly intense load of classes and activities is no deterrent to Campanha. Instead, it’s invigorating. She finds TUJ’s smaller classes “amazing.” They make the learning process much smoother, improves her grades and allows her “to grow much more.”
“I actually came as a transfer student from a university that had me sitting in a lecture hall with 500 other students, watching a professor who did not know any of our names,” she explains. “Teachers [at TUJ] have more time to give me feedback, are more understanding of individual situations, and help me through difficult times.”
Campanha is set to graduate in 2021, a year beset with challenges unlike any other. Yet she is unfazed. “My biggest challenge will be a market devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, I feel like TUJ has prepared me for job hunting and has prepared me to be a good professional,” she said.
She’s not aiming for just any job. Her dream is to work at the UN, something she believes is now within reach, considering her TUJ degree and experience. “TUJ has helped me through career development, planning classes and connecting me with professors with experience in the field,” she says. “TUJ’s diverse environment really motivated me to learn and think critically and grow from the difficulties of living abroad and alone. The experience has made me more flexible, open-minded and courageous to take on more challenges.”
To enhance its offerings in this digital age, TUJ is introducing new minors for undergraduate students in Computer Science (CS) and Information Science & Technology (IST) starting in the summer semester, and an online master’s degree program (MS) in IST open to students from all majors. The application deadline for fall 2021 is July 31st 2021. The Computer Science 2+2 Program — two years at TUJ and two years in-person at the Philadelphia main campus — continues to be a degree option.
“Computing skills and a great understanding of information science are increasingly important across occupational fields and in daily life. As an integral part of a Global Top 350 American university, the Japan campus of Temple University is moving strategically to implement even more pathways that prepare students for the global market,” explains Dean Matthew Wilson.
In fall 2021, it will also launch the Emerging Leaders Program, offering top quality training — in the areas of communication, goal setting, motivation, team building, innovating, conflict resolution and others — for an ever-changing world impacted by COVID-19. To learn more about its credit-bearing leadership course and other special opportunities, refer to the news article, "Cultivating Global Leaders for a Post-COVID World Emerging Leaders Program Fall 2021".