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Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies


Carl Eriksson, Master's Student in International Security, Sciences Po, Paris

Graduated 2016

The years I spent at the AMES faculty and in Japan were consequential in bringing me to where I am now. My story starts with enrolling in Japanese studies in 2012 (St John's College); an experience that spawned a passion to begin exploring East Asian politics and foreign relations. Today I’m studying for a master’s degree in international relations at Sciences Po, Paris. Looking back at my time in Cambridge, I feel that the things I learnt there had positive outcomes that I am only starting to grasp now. Sure, I knew at the time that I would graduate with specialized knowledge of Japan and proficiency in Japanese. However, I would never have been able to tell you how the intellectual stimulation of the degree would help me later on. For example, the experience of having discussed complex issues concerning East Asia, while specialised, has proven to be a great asset in my daily policy-related studies.

Coming from the unique experience that Cambridge is, switching to a different education system was a challenge in the beginning. However, once I wrapped my head around the new system life began to settle in. I like to think that while Cambridge taught me to think, Sciences Po teaches me to apply that thinking. Thus far, I have completed work on policy briefs, participated in negotiation simulations, and learnt a variety of hands-on skills relevant to diplomacy. The great thing about Sciences Po’s PSIA school is also the sheer quantity of interesting topics taught by top-level professionals in the field. It’s definitely exciting to be able to balance the academic style of Cambridge with the more professional style of Sciences Po. I believe this combination will help me achieve my ambition of working with political/business matters concerning both Japan and Europe.

I have touched upon the teaching style of Cambridge, but the impact of my time there goes beyond that. I believe the environment itself, in addition to the very personal and family-like atmosphere of the university and the AMES faculty helps nurture confidence and a sense of belonging. I think this applies particularly to the Japanese department, where we were all very much in the same boat throughout our degree. Furthermore, when one pursues classes that range from classical languages to politics, it is sometimes difficult to make sense of it all, but ultimately, I believe it renders you capable to interpret and analyse any situation that you might face in the future.

So to conclude, I really only have good things to say about the AMES degree. I think if you have a passion for Japan and East Asian matters this is the degree for you. At the end of the day, Cambridge degrees are similar in their structure and academic focus, but if you want a degree that opens doors and where your individual ambitions are catered for, pursuing a degree in Japanese Studies is undoubtedly the right way to go about it.