Q&A: Hinano Maji, UQ IB student from Japan

Posted on 7th Dec 2020 in Australia, International Baccalaureate, University Study

Hi, my name is Hinano, I’m from Japan and I’m studying a Bachelor of Arts at The University of Queensland (UQ) in Australia. Before coming to UQ I attended Tokyo Gakugei University International Secondary School in Tokyo, Japan, and took the International Baccalaureate Diploma Program (IBDP).

Why did you choose to study in Australia, and specifically at UQ?

Born and raised in Japan, I always had great curiosity about the lives of people living outside of Japan.

During the course of my IB program, I discovered the significance of critical thinking and cultural sensitivity in conveying one’s opinion and communicating with others. This made me aspire to study in a culturally diverse environment such as Australia, so that I would be able to hone my communication skills, and practice finding a common ground with others.

What are your thoughts on studying in Australia and Brisbane?

I feel a sense of belonging in Brisbane, as I get to immerse myself in the local community outside of the university campus.

Brisbane as a whole gives the impression that this city is always striving to become brighter, livelier, and more diverse. For example, the city paper bulletin that regularly arrives at my house is packed with information about the city's infrastructure efforts, free lifestyle activities, and seasonal and cultural events. There is always something to see and do in my spare time, such as visit weekly farmers markets, or take part in free events like yoga in the park. The more I explore the local communities, the more I’m fascinated by this city of Brisbane.

What program are you studying at UQ, and why did you choose this program?

My program is a Bachelor of Arts, and I'm majoring in International Relations (IR) and Anthropology. I chose the Bachelor of Arts as I could explore and choose subjects from a wide range of disciplines that suited my interests. About 1.5 years of intense learning in IB has also definitely guided me in choosing my UQ program and specialisation.

One of the Higher Level (HL) subjects in my IB program was history, with a particular focus on Europe in the 20th century. In this subject we delved into the causes and effects of 20th-century wars, and superpower tensions and rivalries in the Cold War. European history was completely foreign and unfamiliar to me, however; as I studied historical events, I learnt how politics have worked in Europe and elsewhere. This subject challenged me and ultimately changed the way I saw the world around me. I decided I wanted to look at the current world from the lens of political science. Through my IB studies I was able to discover my interests and I’m now further deepening and strengthening my understanding of them at UQ.

What are the best things about your program?

I think the advantage of Bachelor of Arts is that you can design it to match your interests and concerns.

I have been interested in human mobilisation, and its drivers, effects, and future consequences. This topic requires interdisciplinary knowledge, as it is about not only immigration policies and diplomatic relations, but also the circumstances of people moving transnationally and their lived experiences. The combination of IR and Anthropology majors allows me to look at my research concerns from inter-disciplinary perspectives and multi-level analyses.

I feel very privileged to have close contact with my lecturers and tutors. I will never forget the excitement of reading articles written by professors I see in person on campus. Many of my lecturers undertake their own research projects alongside teaching, meaning I get to learn how researchers actually plan and conduct projects. They are enormously friendly and willing to listen to my questions and help me with my studies. It gives me so much motivation and inspiration for my future career.

I find the assignments I take at UQ are similar to that of IB. Crucial aspects in IB essay writing, including structure, logicality, synthesis, and referencing, all apply to university assignments. I think that having done the IB, I had an advantage especially in my first year, as I was ready to take on assignments at this level with confidence.

Hinano and her cohort meet in UQ’s Great Court

What career aspirations do you have?

Since January 2019, I have been working as a volunteer for an organisation which supports newly arrived refugees. This involves community worker training and a weekly visit to refugee families. I visit a Syrian family every week and help them learn English and computer skills, read letters, and assist them with anything else they need. For these past two years, I have formed a deep bond with this family. This work has given me insight into what the lives of refugees are like, the struggles and difficulties they face, and the importance of community-based support for building an inclusive society.

The last decade saw a large influx of workers from Southeast Asia into Japan, predominantly in the manufacturing and service industries. Because of my mother’s work as a Japanese language teacher, I have witnessed the struggles many foreigners in Japan bear on a daily basis. My future dream is to contribute to the rights and welfare of foreigners, particularly vulnerable people living in Japan, as a migration and community organiser expert.

My IB and UQ studies have instilled a solid work ethic in me and inspired me to push myself so that I can make a difference to the lives of others. I am considering doing further postgraduate study after finishing my bachelor's at UQ to deepen my knowledge and practical skills.

What advice would you give international IB students about choosing their university study or deciding on their future career path?

The more we learn, the more we discover our ignorance. Topics or subjects that urge you to explore and question the world around you can often be the best choice when studying at university. Undertaking the IB was an unforgettable experience that taught me to forge my own path, think critically, and actively enjoy learning, rather than passively taking everything in. I feel so lucky to have been an IB student.

Also, it is always good to look into and compare university faculty/department websites. You can see how each approaches the same subject differently, what particular focus they have, and who teaches what courses. Comparing and contrasting (which you must be a master at thanks to IB!) different faculties/departments will help you explore your interests.

For more stories like Hinano’s or to find out more about study at UQ, visit: future-students.uq.edu.au.