Concordia International School Hanoi Visits Top Japanese Universities and Reconnects with Alumni

Our High School Counselor, Mr. Ben Compton, recently traveled to Japan to visit five universities, including two esteemed institutions where our Concordia alumni are currently studying: Sophia University and Waseda University. Mr. Compton also visited International Christian University, Keio University, and Temple University of Japan, all of which are located in the metropolitan Tokyo area and are considered some of the best schools in Japan.            

Concordia supported Mr. Compton’s trip to ensure that Concordia counselors continue to build and maintain strong relationships with Japanese universities. This effort underscores our dedication and commitment to supporting our Japanese student community, which is incredibly important to us.

"I am grateful that Concordia is so committed to supporting our students in the college admissions process at universities around the world. Last year, the school supported counselor regional visits to Korean and Singaporean universities, and this year's visit to Japanese universities was extremely valuable. It was very helpful to have the opportunity to meet on campus with admissions leaders at several leading Japanese universities. It was also wonderful to reconnect with some of our Concordia alumni who are currently attending Japanese universities. It has been great to see firsthand that our students are experiencing such happiness and success at these highly regarded institutions." - Mr. Ben Compton (Director of Counseling)

The Bolt conducted two interviews with our alumni who are currently attending Sophia and Waseda University. These interviews aimed at understanding the overall experience of our students attending university in Japan and how Concordia academically prepared these students. With one alumnae being a native of Japan and the other from Korea, we were able to gain two distinct perspectives.

Highschool counselor and student at sophia university in tokyo japan

Mana Kawai, a born native of Japan, is currently a junior studying at Sophia University and will be graduating in 2025. Before committing to Sophia she had also received acceptances to Waseada and International Christian University. Mana has declared political science as her major and upon graduation would like to work for a company that provides support to developing countries. After a few years of gaining work experience, she would like to receive a Masters in International Relations or a Masters in Development Studies. One day, she would like to work for the United Nations (UN).

How did your Concordia education help you succeed in university?

“During my time at Concordia, I had the opportunity to take Advanced Placement (AP) courses, including AP Government and Politics. This exposure sparked my interest in politics, ultimately leading me to major in Political Science. The rigorous academic environment at Concordia, with its demanding workload and numerous assignments, taught me valuable skills in time management and balancing academic life with extracurricular activities.”

“Concordia provided a wealth of academic experiences that were both challenging and enriching. These experiences prepared me well for university by teaching me to handle a heavy workload and meet deadlines effectively. Additionally, I had the chance to engage in various extracurricular activities, such as choreographing theater productions and participating in sports like volleyball, basketball, and soccer. This well-rounded approach allowed me to pursue my passions and interests both inside and outside the classroom.”

What was special about your Concordia experience? 

“The teachers at Concordia were very accepting of who I was as a student, allowing me to pursue my interests both academically and in extracurricular activities. One of my passions was dancing, and the PE teacher at that time provided me with a meaningful opportunity to teach elementary students as an after-school activity. This experience was incredibly valuable to me.”

“The diversity at Concordia was remarkable; I was the only Japanese student in my grade, which gave me the chance to interact with peers from various countries, including Vietnam and Korea. This exposure allowed me to gain knowledge and perspectives that I wouldn't have acquired in Japan.”

“The student body was highly motivated in various areas such as academics, music performance, musical theater, dance, and sports. Being surrounded by such driven individuals inspired me to excel in my own pursuits.”

Advice for students looking to study in Japan on making the transition to university?

“The importance of joining a circle or club at a Japanese university cannot be overstated, especially for students who are not Japanese. Integrating into these communities is crucial for expanding friendships and connecting with Japanese peers. Without joining a specific group, it can be challenging to build a diverse social network. For those looking to broaden their circles and make Japanese friends, participating in a club or circle is highly recommended.”

What are some of the wonderful things about attending university in Tokyo or Japan?

“This is my first time living in Japan for an extended period. Previously, I had only spent one year here during middle school. One of the things I love about living in Tokyo is the convenience – you can find anything you need, go anywhere, and have fun easily.”

“Living in Tokyo has provided me with more opportunities to interact with Japanese people and gain a deeper understanding of their perspectives. While I had an international viewpoint, I realized I lacked certain insights about Japan. My professors, who are also from Japan, enrich our lectures on U.S. and European politics by including the Japanese perspective, even when we are not specifically studying Japanese politics.”

“When I first arrived in Japan, I was surprised by how much I didn't know about the country. This experience has been eye-opening and has greatly expanded my understanding of Japanese culture and society.”

What initially made you interested in Sophia University?

“Before choosing to attend Sophia University, I spoke with several friends who were already studying there to learn about their overall experiences. They told me about the university's close connections to the United Nations and its various partnerships, which frequently lead to events and opportunities related to the UN. This piqued my interest as I am keen on pursuing a career in this area.”

“My friends also praised Sophia for its high-quality teachers and education, particularly within its liberal arts programs. The university's smaller size results in smaller class sizes, which enhances the learning experience through more personalized attention from professors.”

“Having grown up attending international schools, I found the transition to Sophia relatively easy. The university is renowned for its international environment, with a campus that's small yet bustling with exchange students from all over the world. Everywhere you go, you can hear conversations in English, Spanish, and various other languages, reflecting the diverse and inclusive atmosphere that Sophia offers.”

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Waseda university student with concordia highschool counselor

Olivia Park, a born native of Korea, is currently a sophomore studying at Waseda University and will be graduating in 2026. Olivia has declared Economics as her major and upon graduation would like to work at a multinational firm where she can utilize both English and Japanese alongside her background in Economics. In most Japanese universities, the job-hunting process for fourth-year students is typically completed before graduation, allowing them to start their careers immediately after finishing their studies. Olivia hopes to follow this path as well in securing a position before graduation so she can begin working right away.

As a Korean student, what made you interested in attending uni in Tokyo? How has that experience been?

“During my junior year at Concordia, I discovered that Japanese universities offer English-based programs. Among the prestigious universities on my list, Waseda and Keio stood out due to their notable Economics programs and the large number of international students they attract. As a current student at Waseda, I am very pleased with the Economics program and the support provided for international students. I also appreciate the opportunity to meet students and faculty from diverse backgrounds, which has allowed me to build valuable new relationships.”

“As a Korean, I found it easier to adapt to the culture and settings in Japan. Japan offers an excellent environment for gaining international experiences while being conveniently close to my home country. Additionally, the overall cost of studying abroad in Japan is relatively cheaper compared to Europe or the Americas, which is an important consideration for many students.”

How did a Concordia education help you succeed in university?

“The variety of class options offered at Concordia was instrumental in shaping my academic journey. Having already gained experience in various fields, including academics, arts, seminars, and sports, I found it easy to adapt to university-level classes without feeling overwhelmed. In particular, my background in taking AP classes, especially in Economics and Math, provided a solid foundation for my major classes.”

“Moreover, I am grateful for the emphasis on developing research and presentation skills in courses like AP World History and AP Language & Composition. These classes equipped me with the necessary tools to excel in academic assignments requiring reports or presentations. I learned how to effectively research my topics, create structured outlines, and organize presentation slides, enabling me to tackle assignments with confidence and ease.”

What was special about your Concordia experience? 

“During my time at Concordia, I really enjoyed the after school activities (ASA’s), sports (basketball) and the international experience. At Concordia, I always appreciated the tight-knit community among students and teachers. The friendly environment made it easy to socialize, and the diverse backgrounds and traits of the people there made it a unique and enriching experience. This supportive atmosphere helped me acclimate to an international setting, something I hadn’t experienced before.”

“The motivation I gained from seeing other students explore and deepen their interests inspired me to try a variety of activities, including musicals, sports clubs, arts, volunteering, the National Honor Society, and various other clubs. I believe this nurturing environment at Concordia has kept me motivated to continue developing myself. It has encouraged me to try new experiences and expand my horizons in university, such as joining circles, learning new skills, and making new friends and connections.”

“For instance, I took a basketball class last semester because I enjoyed playing basketball at Concordia and wanted to relive that experience. The strong sense of community and the opportunities to engage in diverse activities have profoundly influenced my personal and academic growth.”

You plan on staying in Tokyo after graduation. What do you like about Japan? 

“Yes! I want to stay in Tokyo because I want to travel around and explore Japan more. I want to learn Japanese more and become fluent in it as well. I really like the peaceful and warm atmosphere, and how people are very caring. The weather is mostly very good and there are so many places to go inside and outside of Tokyo; mountains, forests, shrines, islands, and hot springs.”

What advice do you have for other students looking to attend a Japanese university that like you, are from a different country?

“For international students coming to Japan, I think learning the language here would be helpful while living here. If they can use Japanese, it will be a lot easier to join communities they want to join, and make connections. In addition to Japanese, understanding and enjoying the culture here would be important, too.”

You recently spoke to MJ (current Korean Concordia student) a few weeks ago about your university experience, can you tell me about how that conversation went?

“MJ seemed to be glad for the acceptance to Waseda, and she asked me several questions about general life in Japan, and as a Waseda student. I told her that as a Korean, it would be relatively easier to get used to the culture and understand people. Also, she was wondering what nationalities I am making friends with and the proportion of Koreans here. I told her, I do meet a lot of Koreans in Waseda and it is easy to get to know each other. I’ve also met and made friends with a lot of people of different nationalities, including Japan, Taiwan, France, UK, US, Thailand, etc. The department MJ applied to was different from mine, but I was glad for her because her department is the most popular choice for international students and a suitable choice for her to learn linguistics.”

Waseda university student with counselor


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