Dublin Study Tour Reflections by Juri Kunimoto

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Juri Kunimoto

SAF student Juri Kunimoto shares a detailed report on her experience participating in the Communications and Culture Study Tour in Dublin.

What made you decide to participate in this program?


I’ve had a lingering interest in life overseas since my middle and high school days, and there are several countries that I’ve wanted to visit. But because of the COVID-19 pandemic, I lost any opportunity to travel abroad in high school. Now that I’m in college and the travel restrictions have been lifted, I decided that this was my chance. In addition to short-term study tours, I was also interested in the medium and long-term study abroad programs run by my university. However, I didn’t yet have a full vision of what I wanted to do overseas, so I decided to do a short-term program first and then think about the future.
Standing with a friend in front of a statue of Daniel O'Connell


Please tell us about the content and atmosphere of the orientation you attended after arriving in Dublin.


We didn’t really have a formal orientation (since we were provided video explanations in advance). Our daily schedule of program activities were shared on LINE.


Did you feel that you were given enough support during your program?


They gave us a lot of detailed information every day and important points were even written in Japanese. The staff’s support was truly incredible. In addition, when the weather made certain activities impossible, they were flexible enough to immediately schedule a different workshop for us to enjoy.




What activities or events were the most enjoyable or left the biggest impression on you during the program and why?


The hiking trip we took to Glendalough became a wonderful memory for me. We took the hike amid strong wind and rain, so we could barely see our feet as we walked. There were several times when I was on the verge of giving up, but we all encouraged each other and managed to make it to our final destination. Even in the rain, the view from up top was simply breathtaking. Without opportunities like this, I doubt I would have many chances to go overseas, so it was an incredibly valuable experience.
大雨だったけど楽しかったGlendalough へのハイキング
Over the course of the program, which field trip (visiting companies, etc.) was the most fun or left the biggest impression on you?


Our visit to the brewery of Ireland’s famous Guiness beer left a deep impression on me. The beer itself was the main thing, of course, but I was also struck by the brewery’s promotional methods and the history of how they secured their place in the market. They offered a lot of different guided tours for visitors and we were able to sample the Guiness beer made right at the brewery. The brewery was huge and there were objects and posters on display everywhere that illustrated their brewing process and how it developed. It ended up being a very impressive field study visit.
What guest lectures (lectures given by guest speakers) held during the program left an impression on you and why?


The cultural lecture I describe below was quite impressive. We learned the ways that “visible culture” is supported by a foundation of “invisible culture,” and how the latter really makes up the majority.
For example, the Japanese custom of clasping hands before and after meals, followed by the words “itadakimasu” or “gochisosama deshita,” would be a form of “visible” culture, but beneath that is the “invisible” culture of valuing nature by paying homage to all living things, or the animist concept of gods residing in all forms of matter. The visible culture is held up by the invisible. I realized that by questioning the “visible culture” we perceive and asking how it turned out that way, we can reveal the “invisible culture” that lies beneath. It’s that which colors the perspectives and thought processes of all people who have a specific culture.


Did you have many opportunities for discussions or conversations in English?


Most of our coursework was in the form of lectures, but there were also regular group work sessions, and those were our chance to have discussions in English. Even so, I also thought that it was up to each person how much they chose to participate in English. In addition, whenever we went out to eat, the staff would actively start conversations with us when they realized we were tourists, so there were a lot of opportunities to communicate. Oh, and there was some trouble with the system in my hotel room, which I had to explain to the staff in my own words a few times. That actually proved to be a good learning experience.




Could you give us a simple rundown of your presentation?


I thought about ways to introduce Japan that will attract Irish people to visit or the other way around.


What did you do on Saturdays, which were allotted as free time?
We only had Saturdays scheduled as free time. I went with some other participants on a bus tour of the western coastline and also traveled to see The Cliffs of Moher and Galway. The Cliffs of Moher are rock formations, the tallest of which are over 200 km in height, and they spread for eight kilometers along the western coastline. From up there, you get a really broad, majestic view.
The atmosphere in Galway is completely different from the capital city of Dublin. There were lots of street musicians and traditional shops everywhere, which gave it this amazing energy.
Since Dublin is in the eastern half of Ireland, our bus trip to the west coast took us all the way across the country. It was a lot of fun to see how the atmosphere and scenery of each region and town changed so much, even in the inland areas. Some of the other participants visited Dublin Castle and The Hill of Tara.
Outside of the free days we had, there were days when our coursework ended early; one day I went to see a ballet performance in Cork. I had some difficulties with the transit system, but it was still a valuable experience for me to do my own research and make my own arrangements outside of the program itinerary.


How did you enjoy life at your accommodation? (How were the housing facilities and what did you do for meals?)


During our stay, each hotel room was shared by two people. There was a kitchen inside the room with cooking utensils and cutlery, so some people did their own cooking frequently. Of the two weeks I was there, I only cooked for myself on three days, so I spent a lot of money on meals. Still, that enabled me to enjoy local dishes, so I think it was a good choice.There was a coin laundry facility, but since it cost eight euro for one load with drier included, a lot of people would combine their loads and split the cost between them.There was also a 24-hour lounge we could use on the first floor and it was full of food and drinks, so many of us would gather there for conversation or to create our presentations.
Please tell us if there was anything that you’re glad you brought with you to your destination, or anything that you wish you had brought with you.


The hangers and extra duffel bag (to carry souvenirs home in) I brought, as well as some Japanese food (rice packs and ochazuke, etc.), were very useful. I wish I had brought tissues, moist towelettes, and laundry detergent. Oh, and the down hoodie I brought was super handy. In Ireland, rain is constantly starting and stopping, but with the strong wind, it’s a lot easier to wear a down hoodie than to use an umbrella (hardly any of the locals used umbrellas either).
Though it was only a two-week stay, did you make any new discoveries during your time in your destination country? (Cultural differences, etc.)Please also tell us what you found attractive about the country you visited.


I was really shocked by how laid back people are about so many things. Every day, I saw several instances of pedestrians crossing the street at red lights. People also didn’t seem to mind at all if things were 10 or 15 minutes behind schedule. On the contrary, it really brought home to me how strict and precise Japanese people are about time and rules. At dining places too, I felt that the staff were really friendly. In Japan, I think it’s pretty rare for staff and customers to touch on each other's private lives, but in Ireland, it seemed pretty common. I realized that the way Japanese people define the relationship between employee and customer, as well as our work style in general, was very different.
Were there any shops or sites at your destination that you grew particularly fond of?


The entire Dublin landscape was beautiful, but I became particularly fond of visiting the banks of the River Liffey, since it was right next to our hotel. There were a lot of birds and the view from the bridge over the river was really pretty, so for me, it became a place where I could relax. If you have the chance to visit Ireland, I hope you’ll walk along the River Liffey too. The cafe run by Butlers, the famous Irish chocolate company, also became a favorite spot throughout my stay. Besides the chocolate, they offered a lot of different drinks and would give you a free piece of chocolate with your order. People were really happy with the chocolate I brought home as a souvenir.
As a leader or sub-leader, did the onsite staff entrust you with any duties or ask you to do anything? Also, as a leader or sub-leader, did you take any particular actions? If so, what were they?


I wrote email reports when we arrived in Ireland and when we got back to Japan. I also wrote summaries of our experiences and created a LINE group for the participants. In addition, we had a major delay on our flight home and there was a chance that we would miss our connecting flight in Dubai, so I was in contact with the coordinators to figure out what to do if that happened.




What kind of impact has your participation in this program had on you personally?
On top of being exposed to new values and ways of thinking, I also developed an even greater interest in life overseas and other cultures. My contact with other cultures has strengthened my desire to experience different value systems and perspectives. I also reaffirmed my resolve to study every day, so that I can improve my language proficiency.


Finally, do you have any message (recommendations) for people considering participating in our short-term study tours?


If you’re considering whether to study abroad or simply have an interest in seeing other cultures and life overseas, or if you have the faintest interest in a short-term study tour or traveling to other countries, then I highly recommend participating. Between the pandemic and all the political changes happening around the world, who knows what future events will happen where and when, so I think it’s best to be brave and go when you have the chance. Even if you’re worried about your language proficiency, the staff provide a lot of support. Plus, you and the other participants will always be around to help each other out. The cost, of course, is a concern, but I think the things you see, hear, and feel while you’re a student are lifelong experiences that can't be measured in money.
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Juri Kunimoto

Spring 2024 SAF Research Leader

Students from Waseda University participate in “Communications and Culture in Dublin” program.

2024 Spring
Dublin, Ireland, Europe
Home University:
Waseda University
First year student at the School of Culture, Media and Society