By Kenta Abraham Minagi from Guatemala, 2nd Year Undergraduate Student, Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University

What comes to mind when you think about living on top of a mountain? Would you believe me if I told you it could help you find your future career path? Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University (APU) is a place in Japan where you can both enjoy nature and gain experiences that help you discover your goals and how to achieve them. Let me tell you about how one of the extracurricular activities available on APU’s campus motivated me and led me to realize my current goals for the future.

Before that, however, I would like to introduce you to APU. APU is in a city called Beppu, Oita on the southern Japanese island of Kyushu. The campus is located on top of a mountain with pretty much no buildings around other than the campus facilities, meaning that we have a beautiful view like the one you can see in the picture above. But aside from the view, what really creates an amazing atmosphere on campus is the fact that half the students at APU come from over 80 countries and regions outside of Japan. With so many people from different backgrounds, when we come together APU students create incredible ideas!

Some people think that there will be nothing to do in a small city like Beppu, but if you are willing to take the first steps there are countless opportunities available. It’s easy for students to visit Beppu Park located in the city to experience the first cherry blossoms in the spring or enjoy the amazing seaside 15 minutes down the mountain. In addition, there are many exciting activities on campus to take part in. I decided to take hold of my first big opportunity at APU by applying to become a Resident Assistant (RA) at the university’s dormitory (AP House). Before starting this story, let me introduce a bit about my background.

Growing up, my parents constantly encouraged me to care more for others. Back in my home town Antigua Guatemala, Guatemala, my family, friends, and I used to support local children and their families who lacked necessary resources. As Guatemala is a country that is suffering from many difficulties like poverty and economic development failure, we thought that if we could help others with the basic needs of nutrition and education the community would be more successful. Participating in activities such as collecting donations and holding gatherings for these families encouraged me to join the College of Asia Pacific Studies (APS) at APU. I chose to come to Japan because I wanted to experience an international atmosphere while learning about my interests and the Japanese language at the same time.

Anyways, after a long trip from Guatemala, I arrived in Japan in the spring of 2016 carrying all that I could with only two suitcases. I only had a small idea of the place I was planning on spending the next 4 years of my life, and I was stepping into a new challenge without any of my close friends or relations beside me. However, as soon as I arrived at AP House, one of my floor’s RAs kindly helped guide me and carried my luggage all the way to my room. I was so thankful because of what he did. Some hours later, I met other RAs and realized that they were working really hard for the sake of the new enrollees. Right away, I talked to my RA because I wanted to help them too, but he told me, “You should enjoy your free time before classes start.”

This image stayed with me until the RA application period came. Since spring 2017, I can proudly say that, as my RA did for me, I have been helping new enrollees to adapt to their university life in Japan and to the multicultural environment in which APU students become a part of.

Becoming a part of the RA organization has helped me to be strict with time management, to be flexible in any circumstance that might arise, to balance all of my activities, and to enjoy every step of the process! While my time as an RA will soon be coming to an end, overall being a part of this organization provided me with a more realistic view of working in a global environment. Every RA has a different experience, but most importantly it personally helped me decide which field I want to pursue for my future career, which is now dealing with human resources.

My experience as an RA is just one example of the opportunities available at APU. With more than 140 clubs on campus and by being surrounded by the vibrant nature and experiences Beppu has to offer, it is easy for students here to discover their passion and pursue it while enjoying the experience of living in Japan.