Sohko

in Huacachina, PeruThe first of a series of common questions people ask me on our first meeting, is “How do you pronounce your name?” As a young child, that my name was indeed difficult to pronounce was heartfelt by myself when I could not pronounce “circle” differently from my own name. This, and the subsequent bastardization of my name – ranging from a close attempt to something completely incomprehensible – by a whole slew of people led me to come up with the following answer: “It’s the abbreviation for Southern Comfort, or Social-Coordinator. Which ever you like.” And what a superb answer this turned out to be, because ever since no one has had trouble with my name’s pronunciation!

The second of a series of common questions people ask me on our first meeting comes after they’ve heard/read my English and my nationality, Japanese: “Where did you learn how to speak/write such decent English?” with the attachment, “You don’t sound Japanese.” The truth is, I am only a quarter Japanese in blood, and in an uncalculated accordance, I don’t feel all that Japanese. Perhaps the only three things that bind me to my Japanese origin, are 1) the food, 2) the language, and 3) my passport. While I was born and raised in the heart of Tokyo, I attended an international school with an American curriculum. I was schooled in English according to Western values, alongside others of various nationalities, and I credit these 12 years of Western schooling for my English language competency, my un-Japanese-ness and my subsequent confusion as to what exactly I am.

So the logical, pending question is, what am I? In terms of a ‘home’, I feel most closely aligned to Canada, where I spent 4 years in Vancouver at the University of British Columbia to complete my B.A. in History. I wrote my thesis on Italian Fascism, its conceptions of the human body, and how Fascist architecture helped manifest the ideal into reality – in hindsight this study was the primary catalyst for my application to the LSE’s MSc Global Politics programme. I wanted to study how relations between states – not just political ones but also sociocultural ones, as it was for Fascist Italy – affect domestic policies, and in turn what that domestic development meant for the growing, multi-ethnic, international society. This, I felt, was of great importance in our current world, and my personal background as a confused globetrotter resonated with it.

I have yet to find out what all this means for my MSc degree, let alone for my future career(s). I am pretty sure, however, judging from my friends’ experiences in this past year, that I don’t want to enter the corporate world, if at all possible. I can guesstimate that a degree like MSc Global Politics could take me into education (secondary and university-level), academia, and non-/intergovernmental organizations, of which the last one would be most preferable. But, we’ll have to see about that.

I thus aim to make this blog a record of what it’s like to be a postgraduate student in the Department of Government at the LSE. It probably won’t be a daily record, but all other significant discoveries will be blogged, and I hope that it comes into use by others who choose to join the Department in the future.