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Natassha and Sadia at the shrines and temples of Nikko

A Tokyo adventure

04 August 2015

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Japanese noodle classes, tours to World Heritage sites and conversations with people from across the globe – it sounds more like a tale from an ‘around the world’ gap year rather than a two-week study tour.

But that is not the case.

Crawford School Master of Public Policy students Sadia Hasan and Natassha Chrysanti have just returned from a two-week study tour in Tokyo, Japan as part of a competitive program supported by International Alliance of Research Universities (IARU).

The program aims to connect university students with peers from around the world – but the Crawford students got so much more than that.

“It was a study tour but it actually felt as if I was getting knowledge about the perception of people towards different policies from around the world.

“It was a truly international experience with both a formal and informal exchange of knowledge and ideas,” said Sadia.

While there Sadia and Natassha attended academic classes and participated in international debate with peers and academics.

“We had a class debate to discuss the territorial dispute on Senkaku/ Diaoyu islands between Japan and China.

“It was interesting as we got the opportunity to learn from two perspectives, not only from Japan’s side but China’s as well,” said Natassha.

“Also, having discussions with other students from outstanding universities such as Oxford, UC Berkeley, Yale, ETH Zurich and the National University of Singapore is one of the best experiences I have ever had.”

Aside from the academic experiences the students enjoyed at the University of Tokyo they were also able to connect with Japanese culture.

“We got a chance to form groups with people from other countries and under the guidance of Japanese chefs make Soba (Japanese noodles) as well as visit historic sites such as the Nikko Shrine.

“Although I am positive I won’t be able to make the noodles again on my own, the experience of working together in an international group was wonderful,” said Sadia.

From international debates, global friendships and cultural immersion it was the hospitality and kindness of the Japanese that has left a lasting mark on the Crawford students – particularly their acceptance of different cultures and religious practices.
“Being Muslim practising the holy month of Ramadan (fasting), Natassha and I could not eat during certain occasions.

“But we did not at all feel odd as the university organisers and our fellow students were very accepting towards it,” said Sadia

“I am also highly grateful to the University of Tokyo for arranging halal food for us even though I had not mentioned it to them.”

Sadia Hasan and Natassha Chrysanti were chosen to represent The Australian National University in Tokyo as part of their Masters of Public Policy studies at Crawford School.

Story by Kelly Hayward.

Discover how you can advance your career with a postgraduate qualification from Crawford School at ANU Open Day on 29 August.

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