Hello! My name is Ayaka Ito, from Yokohama, Japan. Probably my career path which I have been walking through may be a little bit different from that of other sophomore’s. I graduated from university in Japan in 2008, and worked in a company for 2 years as a businessperson. In 2010, I had a hard time to decide which is better for me, studying abroad that was kind of my dream from the youth, or changing a job. 

Fortunately I found Maryville College through my scholarship program, but still hesitated to go for it. At that time I was 24 years old. Am I too old as an undergraduate student? What is the significance of studying in the college for 4 years again in the USA, with a bunch of students who is much younger than me? However, the answers were simple; it is never too late to learn something, as far as my eagerness to study abroad is strong enough. Also I cannot forget all of hearty supports of my parents and friends; they are truly making my stay a fabulous one. There are over 5000 colleges in the USA, and their educational system and teaching method vary. The characteristic which makes Maryville College so distinctive is absolutely the intimacy between students and faculty, and its amazing campus. If you see around, you will easily find many squirrels, and be able to see fireflies twinkle during summer time. The campus located at the foot of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, which is stunningly beautiful. Also, the numbers of students are small, but the percentage of international students is very high instead. This makes Maryville College such a wonderful, diverse setting, and lets students enjoy life, cross-culturally. Basically, we are like a big international family!

Because of my previous working experience, I was majoring international business. But during the freshman’s year, through liberal arts courses I found my inclination to study about English education, so I added the ESL (Teaching English as a Second Language) major. At first I was trying to minor in both of these, but from my advisor’s recommendation, I decided to set them up as double majors.

I’ve been busy, because major courses require me to take approximately three times more classes than minor. The good thing is that internationals don’t need to take second language classes, since English is already a second language. Also, compared to other majors, international business majors are allowed to take many elective courses. Thanks to all of this, I can manage my schedule by putting most of my ESL major requirements to international business electives. 

Maryville College gives me lots of other opportunities besides studying. I am a regular member of MC Dance Ensemble and have a leadership position of Global Citizenship Organization. In addition, since last August I’ve been doing Peer Mentoring to support freshmen and transfer students. All of them are so much fun and it's an exciting way to spend my time and energy. Furthermore, I’ve been involved in fundraising after the Japanese earthquake and tsunami last year. Thanks to everyone's hard work, we have collected over $13,000 donations eventually. This experience will be unforgettable and is absolutely the proudest thing ever that I’ve accomplished. 

The mission statement of Maryville College “Stretch Your Mind” actually has a strong power to encourage all students to bring their best to the next level. At Maryville you can have a perfect environment to concentrate on your studies, and all the dedicated faculty members are there to support your effort. What is your ambition? What do you want to achieve from the heart? Nobody can decide what you want to do but you. Your possibility is infinite and all in front of you.
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リベラルアーツカレッジの2年生としては、私の経歴はちょっと異色かもしれません。2008年に日本の大学を卒業し、2年間社会人として働いていました。会社勤めをしながら、留学への希望も捨てきれずにいた2010年初め、Maryville Collegeの存在を知りました。これから新しく1年生としてアメリカの大学に入学し、何歳も年下の学生たちと一緒にもう一度4年間学ぶ事にどんな意義があるのか。当時24歳という年齢だった事もあり、迷いました。でも最後に背中を押してくれたのは、家族や友人の真摯なサポートと、「アメリカに留学したい」という自分の正直な気持ちでした。

アメリカには5000以上の大学があります。教育レベルもその方法もさまざまです。その中でMaryville Collegeを特別な存在にしているのは、やはり教授と学生の距離の近さと、国立公園にごく近い自然豊かなキャンパスだと思います。キャンパス中をリスが駆け回り、夏の夕方には蛍が光ります。本当に素敵なところです。学生数は少ないですが、留学生の割合は非常に高く、さまざまな国の文化に触れる事ができます。留学生全体が大きなファミリーのような感じです。

社会人時代の経験から、入学当初は国際ビジネスを専攻していましたが、汎用的な教養科目を履修するうちに教育分野への興味が湧き、Teaching English as a Second Language(ESL)のメジャーを加えました。当初はどちらかをマイナーにしようと思っていましたが、アドバイザーに相談したところ両方メジャーしかないと言われ、泣く泣くダブルメジャーに・・・。

2つのメジャーを同時に履修するのは大変です。マイナーとメジャーだと履修科目数に3倍ほどの違いが出るからです。ただ、私は留学生なので、アメリカ人の学生に必修の第二外国語を取らなくて良いというメリットがあります。また、国際ビジネスの専攻は他の専攻に比べて自由選択科目が多く、その枠にESLの必修科目を詰め込んで、何とか両立が出来ています。

取り組んでいるのは学業だけではありません。MC Dance ensembleでダンスのパフォーマンスを行ったり、Global Citizenship OrganizationのLeadership positionで留学生をまとめたりしています。今年からはPeer mentorという1年生のサポート役も務めています。今年3月に日本で起こった地震の後は、さまざまな人の協力を得ながら支援活動に携わりました。多くのチャリティイベントを企画し、最終的に100万円以上の義捐金を集めた経験は、私の一生の誇りです。

Stretch your mind. Maryville Collegeのミッション・ステートメントには、人が持っている最大限の能力をもう少しだけ引き伸ばす、パワーがあります。そして、ここMaryville Collegeには、あなたが望めば、それを実現できるだけの環境と、あなたの努力を全力で支えてくれる教授たちがいます。あなたがここで本当にやりたい事は何か。決めるのはあなたです。

 





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