Tower Center Student Collin Dierssen shares his experience in the SMU-in-Japan Program

Tower Center Student Collin Dierssen shares his experience in the SMU-in-Japan Program

By: Collin Dierssen

During this summer I had the great opportunity of studying abroad at Kwansei Gakuin University through the SMU-in-Japan study abroad program. The two classes I took were International Relations of East Asia, taught by Professor Diana Newton and Japanese Politics taught by Doctor Hiroki Takeuchi. SMU-in-Japan was full of hands-on learning opportunities that really allowed me to experience Japanese culture. I have been blessed to have had the opportunity to travel to other countries in the past, but going to Japan was the first time I had traveled to Asia and it was nothing like I had experienced before

As a student at SMU who double majors in Political Science and Public Policy, SMU-in-

Collin Dierssen in front of the Kotoku-in Great Buddha in Kamakura, Japan

Japan gave me a global perspective to my educational studies which I will apply to my future studies and career in government and politics. With the increased aggression from North Korea and China toward the United States, Japan, and South Korea, I applied to SMU-in-Japan with the intention of learning more about politics of Japan and East Asian. I am truly grateful for both SMU professors on the SMU-in-Japan program because I learned so much about the Japanese political and economic systems and how they play into the relationship with East Asian countries and the United States. This was crucial to my experience because understanding these systems exposed me to a new layer of Japanese society that a simple tourist of Japan wouldn’t understand.

Collin alongside his friend Jo and both Professor Diana Newton and Doctor Hiroki Takeuchi

My favorite part of SMU-in-Japan was being able to experience Japan through a cultural crossroad. A common theme I noticed while on the various excursions and during the classes, was Japan was a country that was bustling with new technological innovation, but still had preserved its prolonged history and culture in modern day society.  I particularly enjoyed it when a few classmates and I visited Senso-Ji in Tokyo and then later visited the Shipyard in Matsuyama as a class. What both of these experiences  contrasted was the historic culture and massive industry within Japan thriving alongside each other.


Collin Dierssen and Doctor Hiroki Takeuchi on a ship tour of the shipyard in Matsuyama, Japan

I would like to thank all of my fellow SMU Mustangs on the trip, Professor Newton, and Doctor Takeuchi for making this experience a truly memorable one and thank the scholarship providers, Southern Methodist University, and Kwansei Gakuin University for making this experience even possible in the first place. I am truly thankful for this program and that SMU and KGU students can continue exchange like the SMU-in-Japan program for many years to come.