Modern Languages

Saumya Kurup

Why did you decide to become a Japanese minor?

I had studied Italian in high school, but I was dissatisfied with what I had been told about the quality and level of the Italian language program at Ursinus by other students. As an international relations major, however,I was required to take up to 300-level courses in a language, so I decided to study a new language. Mizenko-sensei was my freshman advisor, and encouraged me to consider East Asian studies classes like Japanese literature in translation. I also had been exposed to some Japanese music and popular culture through my older brother, and thought it would be an interesting language to try learning. I ended up really enjoying the language,and decided to stick with it. I finished my requirements during my junior year studying abroad in Tokyo.

What was your most rewarding experience in your Japanese minor?

My most rewarding experience was my year studying abroad in Tokyo, Japan at the International Christian University (ICU). There, I studied Japanese (1 semester was in an intensive program!), took other courses that counted towards my majors and my business management minor, and was an active part of student clubs like cycling and traditional folk dance. I learn languages best when I’m immersed and exposed to daily use. I also loved being invested in the clubs, particularly the traditional folk dance club (I have a background in traditional Indian dance, which my fellow club members also found interesting). My dance teachers even had me stay with them at their home in the mountain suburbs for a few days before the New Year when they found out that I wasn’t going home, and spent those days bringing me to interesting places in their area, taking part in community mochi-making, and other activities.

What did you do after Ursinus?

After Ursinus, I went back home to NY to take part in an academic-internship combination summer program from Bard College (called the Bard Globalization and International Affairs Program), and was then hired by the company at which I interned. After 2 years of working at this policy-and-academia oriented think tank, the NYU Center for Dialogues: Islamic World - U.S. - The West, I started attending graduate school. I am currently pursuing my Master’s Degree in International Affairs and Economics at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). During this past summer break, I was selected to take part in the Japan Travel Program for Future U.S. Leaders, along with other students from schools which are part of the Association of Professional Schools of International Affairs (APSIA). APSIA co-sponsors the program with the Japan Foundation’s Center for Global Progress. The program brought me back to Japan for the first time since my study abroad year, and we spent approximately 1.5 weeks examining the US-Japan alliance and relationship through meetings and explorations in Tokyo, Sendai, Onagawa, Hiroshima, Kyoto, and Osaka with various government official, NGO representatives, scholars, military, students, and community members.


International Relations, Politics


Japanese, Business Management