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SSIS Alumni Arikawa Kinji: Studying in Shanghai

November, 2017
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 ssis-3After studying at Shanghai Singapore International School for twelve years, Arikawa Kinji chose to attend the Shanghai Medical College of Fudan University in Shanghai, one of the best medical schools in Asia. Currently, Kinji lives in the foreign student dorms.

The major he is studying now is Medicine, or MBBS (Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery). It is a six-year course that is taught completely in English, mostly by Chinese professors, aside from the compulsory Chinese classes that are taught in Chinese.

“To be specific, my course is six years, so I still have four-and-a-half years to go. I am really planning to keep my focus on studying. My first goal is to work as a pediatrician in Japan so I will have to balance out my MBBS studies, together with studying for my Japanese licensing exam. This will probably be one of the biggest challenges for me in my life because I will have to study the MBBS contents in English and then study all the licensing exam contents in Japanese.”

To Kinji, Shanghai is a second home – he is used to the city, the people and the lifestyle, which makes things easier to solely concentrate on his university studies.  

LittleStar: What is the difference between university life and High Schoollife? 

Kinji: In my opinion, I think university life is definitely harder than IB years in High School. In High School we had teachers chasing after us for submission of assignments, people around you to remind you what’s coming up next, and control through the whole school schedule. On the other hand, in university, it’s all up to you. You are the one to decide what you want to do the next second. 

The professors aren’t going to chase after you for assignments nor will they remind you. The time schedule does not lock you up, so most people tend to waste the precious time you could use on studying something else. So time management is still key in university. If you can time manage well, you literally get to have your own study time and your own leisure time. But medical school is tough in a sense that most of the subjects we are taking right now are all as heavy as the science subjects in IB; so to be honest, I don’t get much of a leisure time, but I still try my best to make some. I think the greatest difference is that we have to be independent. We are responsible for our own actions, grades, relations, etc. Our parents are not always here to support our back. It’s a whole new jump from HS to university, but it’s all about just getting used to it.

LittleStar: You’ve been studying at SSIS for many years. How is that part of school life?

Kinji: I have been studying in Shanghai Singapore International School from Primary Grade 1 to High School Grade 12, so that makes it 12 years of my life spent at SSIS. I really enjoyed my time here. I call SSIS my second home because this is where I have spent my childhood and teenage life. People here are also very open-minded and they are willing to accept any kind of student.

The environment in SSIS as an international school makes you multicultural, global and more social. Because of the smaller size of the school, we were able to create stronger bonds with students and teachers.

LittleStar: How do you think the education at SSIS, especially the IB programs in High School, prepares the students for college?

Kinji: The most important thing I think the SSIS IB programs prepared me for was the upcoming amount of workload you are going to face in university and how you should handle it. For IB students, you have totake a minimum of 3 HL and 3 SL subjects, which is what I did. Despite the subjects being HL or SL, they both have an enormous amount of workload waiting for you. So having six subjects with intensive content allowed me to start managing my time well. Since IB started, I have never procrastinated or crammed. I honestly hate to procrastinate, because you will end up having to cram and pull an all-nighter the day before to finish the assignment or study for an exam. I usually start doing things in advance, but at the same time, I don’t try to finish off the assignment at one go, because I want to balance out my working speed for other subjects as well.

Another good thing about the education here is that, it is not “all-study”. The school and the student councils organize events to help the student body release stress, or more like get their heads of study. This emphasizes that taking regular breaks are also important in university life, like watching movies, eating out with your friends, playing sports, or anything that has the meaning of “leisure” to you.

LittleStar: What is your advice for the current High School students about their university choice? 

Kinji: The most important thing IS NOT THE RANKING. I was also one of the students who only had rankings in my mind. Well definitely, everyone will be jealous and proud of you if you were able to get into a top ranked university in the world.

The world is so big. Do what you want. Go to wherever you want. After you graduate from High School, you are the one who will create your own future. Start thinking about your future now and pick a course you want to pursue in your life. Exceptions for those who still do not have a fixed goal of what you want to be in the future. You guys can think about what you like to do during your free time, and it might actually link to a certain major or pick a major that has potentials where you can take time to decide. It’s also totally not a bad idea to take a gap year to really decide on what you want to do in the future, as it is a big step you will be taking in your life.

 ssis-4LittleStar: You were the president of the student council. Tell us about a project that the student council has done that you’re most proud of?

Kinji: I am proud of the Prom that we organized for seniors who are going to graduate. And during our year, the profit made was the largest so far, so it helped to boost the funds for the student councilors for the next academic year. It is also an event that the whole Middle and High School can participate to send off and have the last fun with the seniors. This is also considered as the biggest project the student council is in charge of every year and it takes time, money and lots of effort to make this event a successful one.

Also, another thing that I am secretly proud of is that, when I was the president of the student council, I was the first one to get the privilege to use the PA (public announcement) system. This is something very common that you see in Japanese schools but not very common in international schools. So I wanted to make this a culture in international schools as well, so I went to the administrators and head of the school to get the approval to use the PA system. This PA system helped the student council a lot to make announcements in schools to promote events, give reminders or entertain people. I am proud of this because this is one of the dreams that I made come true during my High School life – to have a radio/public announcement system in the school.

LittleStar: What are you busy with besides studying at university? What is the coolest thing you’ve done at university?

Kinji: The coolest thing that I have ever done during my university life is performing a dance routine in front of a bunch of seniors (I do not know the majority of the seniors) during my first year. I danced during the welcoming party held at the beginning of year 1 and during the MedBall (Medical students Ball) around the end of year 1. It was very cool because that was the first time ever when I created a dance routine from scratch and performed with people I have never performed with before. I was overly nervous to the point I felt ill, but it was worth feeling ill and performing, because everyone enjoyed our performance very much. I am planning to do more performances in the near future.

uni-1LittleStar: What do you see as the biggest benefit of attending an international school like SSIS?

Kinji: The biggest benefit is that you will become multi-cultured and you will be able to break out of your own world to explore new ones. The biggest change that has occurred to me is that I became more of an open person to many things. I also like the concept that this school is Shanghai SINGAPORE International School, so being an international school, at the same time it also incorporates the tastes and cultures from Singapore. You will also be able to get connections from many people around the world, because the teachers come from different schools and countries in the world.  

LittleStar: Shanghai is like your second home. Would you like to live here forever?

Kinji: I was planning to leave Shanghai after I graduate from this major to work in another country. Honestly, I have been in Shanghai for more than three quarters of my life and I would like to see more and different parts of the world. I would love to explore places I have never been to, but I do like Shanghai and I can call Shanghai one of my homes.


By Xing Yangjian



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