Education and Student Life

No.28: Learning both Challenges and Failure at Hiroshima University!

2nd Year, School of Applied Biological Science
Masami Umeki
<Graduated from Oita Prefectural Hita High School>

“HU Students Voices” gives our prospective students an insight into the perspectives of HU students. On the 28th interview in this series, we talked to Ms. Masami Umeki, who graduated from Oita Prefectural Hita High School, and is currently in the 2nd year of the School of Applied Biological Science. Ms. Umeki decided to join the School of Applied Biological Science due to her interest in food science and environmental issues. We listened to her stories about how she struggled over the entrance exam, and how she enjoyed the Orientation Camp after entering Hiroshima University. We also heard about her classes at the university and her study abroad experience.

Please tell us why you decided to join Hiroshima University.

I joined the open campus when I was in my 2nd and 3rd year of high school. During the lecture they told an intriguing story, saying “Hiroshima University is a place that allows you to learn about failure. You know how usually, the word “fail” isn’t used in a good way? I felt it’s a great opportunity to be able to take on many challenges, and also have many chances to fail. I learned that Hiroshima University has a well-organized study abroad program, and also allows you to take classes out of your major, so I thought “Hiroshima University sounds great!”

It is indeed important to learn from your failure. By the way, was your major of choice already decided?

Yes. I was opting for the Applied Biological Science major that allows me to learn about food science and environmental issues. As I was watching documentaries on television, my interest in poverty/starvation/environmental destruction became stronger. I thought it would be great if I could gain deeper knowledge about it in university. I liked creating things, so I thought about joining Engineering and learn Architecture too. I finally leaned towards Applied Biological Science after researching about “euglena”.

Were you doing research in euglena since you were in High School?

My high school was chosen as one of the Super Science High Schools (SSH) from The Ministry of Education, and I was researching as part of those efforts. Euglena is thought to have the potential to solve the world’s starvation problems. We were especially researching about the light intensity dependence of palatability and photosynthesis’s rate of color. The research I did then helped me during the AO (Admission Office) examination later on.

Ms. Umeki explaining, “I liked doing experiments and researching since high school”.

So you took the AO examination.

My teacher suggested it, and I challenged it, thinking “Why not try it if I have more chances to take examinations?.” Either or, it was a type of AO examination that requires a high score on the center examination. So I had a hard time preparing for the center exam as well as the AO exam, because you have to take up a lot of time thinking about your self-appeals and preparing for interviews.

What was the format of your AO Examination?

After the document selection process, there was a test in November. There were 2 tests; one was a seminar format test where you have to listen to a lecture and summarize your opinions, and the other was an interview. During the lecture, each teacher from 5 courses (Biosphere Environmental Studies, Fisheries Biological Science, Animal Production Science, Food Science, Molecular Cell Function Science) spoke for 20 minutes. I believe the contents were, about the issues with food/agriculture/Fishery, and the problems with animal stock breeding in Japan.

What were the things you took caution on when preparing for the center exam and AO exam?

To make sure I make a schedule. I am the type of person who gets caught up on one thing. There were many times where I prolonged things and didn’t have time left for other things. I learned from this mistake, and tried my best to manage my time by writing  down in my schedule book as detailed as possible, so that all of my subjects do not become incomplete.

After that, you got in with the AO exam, and your university life began. Did you have any worries?

Right after you enter, there is an orientation camp, called “Orikyan”. There, you can deepen your relationships with your classmates and upperclassmen. With that, my worries all disappeared. The School of Applied Biological Science is quite energetic. You can eat with your groupmates, or prepare for the presentation during camp. On the actual day, we had BBQ with teachers as well, and that made us closer.

This year as a 2nd year student, Ms. Umeki took the position of entertaining the newcomers.

What kind of classes have you taken so far?

I have taken “Species Biology”, “Cell Science”, “Agricultural Production Resources”, “Environmental Sciences for Bioproduction” so far, but the subjects I am most interested in are of course the most intriguing. The students around me are also interested in the same things, so it’s even more fun. Oh, but inside of our School of Applied Biological Science, there are lots of people who run different paths from me, such as “Fish maniacs” and “Animal Lovers”. That is also the beauty of University; you get to meet these kinds of people too.

Additionally, “Starvation, destitution, and environmental affairs: the issues threating world peace” from the “Peace Subjects” had a lot to do with agriculture, and was helpful. The teacher explained to us the reality and problems of World Hunger/Food Production, and led me to think about how we will be able to create a relationship with these issues for creating peace. This is also a Hiroshima University-Exclusive right?

The School of Applied Biological Sciences consists of about 100 students per grade. “It’s fun with so much unique people.”

Did you experience studying abroad?

Yes. I went to Indonesia for 2 weeks with the study abroad program for 1st year students (START Program). It was really a continuation of surprises. They would pour a lot of hot things on sweet things, and the bathrooms were very different from Japan…The common things that I normally wouldn’t pay attention to seemed different in Indonesia, and I had a fresh feeling throughout the trip.

At the Candi Singosari temple. During the START program, not only do you have classes at local universities, but also you have monument tours and Art tours.

Jumping at Gunung Bromo Volcano!

During the 1st year your perspectives must have widened by touching upon foreign cultures. How were the classes at the local university?

Of course, all the lectures were held in English. That was why it was so difficult, but it was great that I could exchange with local university students. There were more opportunities to speak English, and it became a trigger to learn about culture and history. When saying goodbye, everyone was crying because we became so close.

With Indonesian friends. Ms. Umeki is still in touch with them through SNS.

Are you in a circle?

I am in a soft tennis circle. There is practice everyday, but you can just go whenever you feel like it, so I participate about 3 times a week. During high school I was enthusiastic about competitive Karuta, but I felt I had done enough, so I wanted to try something new in University.

Circle’s group photo at the training camp

Do you have any part time jobs?

I am working at a cram school and the school library. At Cram School, I am teaching Math, Japanese, and Science to Junior High school and High school students. I am not very good at teaching, but as I repeatedly thought, “how could I explain it so that it’s easier to understand?”, I feel it has become my strength. Also, when I see high school students working hard, it reminds me of myself 2 years ago, and helps me to go back to a beginner’s spirit.

It’s almost halfway through your University life. What are your thoughts on your future?

After joining a research seminar, if I could find an intriguing research subject, I am thinking about continuing on to graduate school. However, up until now, I am thinking about finding a job and graduating with a bachelor’s degree. It would be great if I can be involved with a company related to food, and I can work in the product development department.

Finally, please give us a message to the students who want to join Hiroshima University!

I cannot find any fancy words (Haha), but Hiroshima University is really lots of fun! During circle activities and part time jobs you are able to find vertical relationships that cross beyond grades, and you can create a horizontal relationship with your major’s classmates. Your network of people will grow right before your eyes. When I think about how I was in High School, it’s hard to imagine how I am today. I know preparation days are a continuation of hard work, but there is no other way than to just keep on trying every single day, little by little. Please continue working hard, and cherish every minute, every second to follow your dreams.

September 28, 2016
Reports and Photograph: Public Relations Group (i, Y)
Location: 2F, Administration Bureau Building, Higashi Hiroshima Campus