Stepping outside our comfort zones is key to experiencing personal growth

Isak Sollid
2nd year student
Department of Liberal Arts
Faculty of Liberal Arts

Moving away from home is never easy, and for Isak Sollid, a second year student in the Faculty of Liberal Arts, the move from Norway to Japan was measured in more than just distance. Coming from the west to the east meant he would have to navigate an entirely new culture than the one that he was familiar with, but his belief is that “exploring new cultures makes our lives more interesting and fulfilling.”


Having an open-minded approach to life and learning has set Isak up for a successful future in managing international relationships.

A global learning environment provides new perspectives

As a Norwegian, attending university in Japan isn’t a common path for students to follow. Coming from the other side of the world, it would have been much easier for me to attend a school closer to home, but after learning about Japanese culture and the emphasis it places on respect for others and self-discipline, it became more evident that Japan was the right place for me to learn the skills that would help me be successful in both my studies, and in my future career. Stepping outside your comfort zone can be intimidating at first, but true personal growth is made when we turn the uncomfortable into the familiar.

In researching which school to enroll in, I was drawn to the Faculty of Liberal Arts at Sophia University, as it focuses on creating global citizens and fostering an understanding of our modern international society.

Now, as a student at Sophia, I can see that I wasn’t alone in making the decision to move to Japan to study, as I have met many others from all corners of the world who have done the same. With so many different cultures and languages across the campus, Sophia is truly an international university that offers up a diverse and stimulating learning environment with opportunities to learn something new every day, in and out of class.

Being a student of the Faculty of Liberal Arts also allows me to be flexible with my studies, and choose a wide range of courses that I find interesting or helpful for the career path I want to follow. I’ve been able to take a variety of different courses that have given me a foundational education on which I can build my more specialized knowledge upon.

My major is International Business and Economics, and in the future I hope to find a career in the field of global economics. Being a student of the Faculty of Liberal Arts will ensure that I get the education I need to make my goals a reality.

Remembering that the decisions we make affect the entire world

The way global relationships shape our world is fascinating to me. The decisions of one nation can affect what happens on the other side of the globe, as every country on our planet is connected through international economics.

The dynamic nature of geopolitical strategies means that we always have to be prepared for any situation, especially from a business and economics perspective, as it can be impossible to predict what the future holds.

Because of this instability, we’ve also learned about the importance of non-governmental organizations whose sole focus is on providing support and aid for those less fortunate across the world. Studying these organizations has shown that they are necessary to ensure that there is a safety net in place, and has opened my mind to new perspectives I hadn’t expected to learn about as a student of business.

In one particularly interesting class, we focused solely on the thinking process, and how we have two options when it comes to forming an opinion: either we can draw conclusions from the evidence we gather, or conversely, have a predetermined conclusion from which we gather evidence.

Until this class, I’m not sure if I truly understood the concept of confirmation bias, and how on a subconscious level, it’s possible to pre-exclude the opinions of others without even realizing it. Thanks to this lecture, I am now reminded to keep an open mind, and the way I view the world and approach my studies has changed for the better.

With a more open-minded approach to my education, I have been inspired to take courses that are outside my main area of study. With a myriad of classes all located on the same campus, I’m able to freely explore new topics that I normally wouldn’t have access to at a larger university.

And since the class sizes are relatively small, the professors don’t just lecture us; they also structure their classes around discussing the topics we cover. With so many unique perspectives and backgrounds, we’re provided with a platform that amplifies our voices and opinions, rather than stifling them.

When real-life experiences and examples are provided in this type of engaging forum, it helps us to see how the theory we learn will be applied outside of the classroom, which prepares us to be successful in our careers and lives after graduation.

Connection and culture makes life worth living

Even though there are still a few years to go before I graduate, I have already begun to think about my future career. I want to be able to work in the field of international relations from my home country of Norway, with a focus on strengthening the political and cultural connections between us and Japan. While these two countries already have a history of working together amicably, I believe that there is room for even more mutually beneficial exchange.

As someone who now has experience living in both countries, I see a real potential for me to make an impact in this sphere. In this unprecedented time of globalized relationships that we live in, I believe that we should focus on policies that make it easier for people to cross borders and explore new cultures, as it’s these experiences that make our lives more interesting and fulfilling.

While the decision to study abroad was intimidating at first, I honestly believe that if I didn’t take the leap to explore the world and open my mind to new perspectives while I’m still young it would have been a missed opportunity, especially as someone who has set their sights on becoming a global citizen.

Getting to work and study in the world’s largest metropolis has been an amazing experience, and Sophia University’s beautiful campus has been the perfect setting for my university life, but even more importantly, it’s the people I’ve met that have made the biggest impact on me.

Had I stayed in my hometown, I wouldn’t have made all these inspiring connections, and for that, I am grateful to be a student at Sophia.

※Please note that the content of this article is current as of January 2022

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