TUFS Today
TUFS Today
TUFS Today

Study in Japan Connected by Drawings---Interview with an Exchange Student, Beatrice Grossi from Italy


Ms. Beatrice Grossi ("Beatrice") had come to Japan from Italy to study at TUFS for six months from April 2023. She loves Japanese drawings and manga, so I asked her about her study abroad experience in Japan and how it connects to her love of drawings. She also loves to travel, so don't miss her recommendations for places in Japan to visit that she introduces.

Interviewer: Yusei HASEGAWA, 2nd year students, School of Language and Culture Studies

Study at TUFS

---Why did you decide to study in Japan?

I have always loved drawing pictures since I was a child and have always been interested in Japanese paintings and art. In particular, I like art from around the 16th century and I became interested in Japanese art because I was attracted to the works of Eitoku Kano, a well-known Japanese painter active in the same period. I loved the composition and use of color in his paintings, and his style inspired me to continue painting even now that I am a university student. At the same time, I have always wanted to study Japanese since I was a high school student. So when I became a university student, I enrolled in an Italian university specializing in Japanese cultural history. Now, I am here in Japan to study.

---What are you studying at TUFS?

At TUFS, I am mainly studying linguistics, Japanese language, and Japanese literature including contemporary literary works. Among the lectures I am taking, I find the Japanese language classes particularly interesting. I enjoy the Japanese language lectures very much, not only for learning grammar and practicing writing and reading, but also for dealing with vocabulary that Japanese people use naturally in their daily conversations. Recently, we learned the so-called "young people's words" (maji, mecha, mucha, etc. ....) that are commonly used by young people (laughs). Learning these words that I often hear in everyday conversation has been very useful for me in my Japanese studies. I am also learning other dialects such as Osaka-ben, but it is very difficult to study dialects....

---What are your goals after graduation?

After I finish my studies in August and go back to Italy, I don't know if I will be able to graduate from my Italian university yet... (laughs) …but if I graduate, I plan to first find a job in Italy to earn some money. After I save up some money, I definitely want to come back to Japan. I like drawing pictures, so if I can save up enough money to come to Japan, I would like to work in a job related to drawing. I really like Japanese manga, and I like various manga titles such as JUMP and MAGAZINE. Among them, I especially like "A Silent Voice" (2013 Weekly Shōnen Magazine), which is about a deaf girl and her relationships with the people around her, and I would like to draw a manga like this one myself. I am not sure if I will be able to achieve this, but if it is possible, I would like to work in the manga industry or as an assistant to a manga artist.

Life in Tokyo

---What kind of food do you usually eat?

For lunch, I mainly eat at the cafeteria of TUFS. For dinner, I try to cook for myself as much as possible. Since I came to Japan, I eat rice more often than pasta. The rice I ate when I was in Italy was long and thin (indica rice), so I was not used to the round and fluffy rice in Japan at first, but now I like both types. The dormitory rooms are equipped with a kitchen, but it is a bit small and difficult to cook... (laughs). As for Japanese food, I really like sushi and gyudon (beef bowl) and eat them often. What surprised me when I came to Japan is that convenience stores are everywhere, and they are open 24 hours a day. In Italy, there are not many stores like these that are open even in the middle of the night, so I wish there were convenience stores in Italy. I often buy jelly and fried chicken from convenience stores. I especially recommend the melon bread with cream inside. It is very tasty and I would like everyone to try it.

---What clubs or part-time jobs do you belong to?

I like to draw pictures, so I joined the Tokyo University of Foreign Studies Manga Kenkyukai circle. The Manga Kenkyukai is active every Thursday and Friday, and I try to show up at the meetings as much as possible. The members of the Manga Kenkyukai treat me with open arms, even as an international student, , so I enjoy the circle activities very much. Some of the club members are studying Italian so we teach each other our languages. However, it was a little bit difficult to find a circle because the Manga Kenkyukai did not have flyers to introduce the club. While I was searching for information on Instagram and X (formerly Twitter), I happened to talk with a senior student at TUFS, who was a member of the Manga Kenkyukai, and they asked me, "Beatrice, why don't you join the Manga Kenkyukai too?” so I decided to join the Manga Kenkyukai during that conversation. After that, I exchanged messages several times with seniors through Instagram and over LINE, and I became a fully-fledged member of the Manga Kenkyukai circle.

---How do you spend your time when school is not in session?

On my days off, I mainly go out. In order to discover even more of Tokyo, I explore Tokyo as if I were a tourist visiting Japan for the first time (laughs). I would like to visit as many places as possible before I finish this study abroad program and return home to Italy. When I go out on my days off, I mostly go with friends, but sometimes I just wander around by myself. On such occasions, I enjoy a cup of coffee at a newly found cafe while doing my homework and admiring the scenery of the city. Most recently, I took the Chuo Line and went to Nakameguro by train. One spot in Nakameguro that I particularly recommend is a cafe called "ONIBUS CAFFE”. It is a stylish cafe in a renovated old house, and it is my favorite place to enjoy a cup of coffee and watch the scenery of Nakameguro station and the passing trains from the window. Please visit it once if you can.

Me and Japan-Changed habits

---What souvenirs would you like to buy for your family and friends when you return to your home country?

My Italian friends told me that any Japanese product will do as a souvenir (laughs). Like kimonos or figurines of anime characters. If they ordered them in Italy, it would take a long time to arrive, so they insisted that I buy these things for them while I’m in Japan so they can get them quickly. Other than that, I have bought many good luck charms and postcards. The one thing I personally want to bring back to Italy is a kimono given to me by Misato-san, a friend I made on a trip to Kyoto. Misato-san used to sell kimonos at their store, but the store was closed due to the expansion of kimono rental shops. Therefore, Misato-san gifted me an obi and a kimono that were remaining after the shop closed. The kimono Misato-san gave me has become an important treasure that symbolizes my stay in Japan. Also, I definitely want to bring some copies of the Shonen Jump manga back home with me. You can buy Shonen Jump in Italy as well, but as a manga lover, I prefer the authentic Shonen Jump from Japan.

---Where would you recommend to visit in Japan?

There are so many places I would like to recommend in Japan, but if I had to narrow it down to a few, I would start with Hakone. I visited Hakone with some of my international student friends and found it to be a very scenic and nice place. Another place I would recommend is Mt. Fuji. Even though I have not climbed it yet, I see it clearly from the window of my dormitory almost every day (laughs). I would also like you to visit Kyoto and Nara. In Kyoto, I visited many shrines and Buddhist temples, especially Kiyomizu-dera Temple, which has a very solemn and powerful atmosphere.

---What habits have you changed since you came to Japan?

One of the biggest changes since I came to TUFS was that I decided to study seriously.... The students at TUFS are very serious, so I thought I should learn from them. At Italian universities, after a big test like the final exam at the end of the semester, students receive credits even if they never attend any classes after that, which is very different to TUFS. However, I think TUFS has a very good system that allows students to grow a lot by studying diligently, even if only a little bit each day. I will continue to study hard even after I return to Italy.

After the Interview

The interview with Beatrice, who loves Japanese paintings and manga, was a very enjoyable time for me, as I also love reading manga and watching anime. I was happy to see that Japanese manga and anime are recognized around the world, as if the excellence of Japanese culture is also being recognized. I also learned a lot about attractive spots in Japan that I was not aware of even as a local. I will try to visit these places with my friends in the future. Thank you very much, Beatrice, for your cooperation in this interview.

Yusei HASEGAWA, 2nd year students, School of Language and Culture Studies