Current students

Study Abroad in Helsinki, Finland 2018 – 2020

Destination: Aalto University, Finland  
Study Period: August 2018 – July 2019 
Affiliation/Grade at the start of studying abroad: Graduate School of Design, Department of Design Strategy, Strategic Architecture, 1st Year 

My Thoughts on Studying Abroad 
1. Outcomes 
I was able to feel the difference in the roles of designers between Japan and Scandinavia. In Japan, designers are regarded as problem-solving specialists, but in Scandinavia, where design has been democratized, designers act as a facilitator to allow everyone to participate in finding solutions. In one of the projects I participated in, we were asked “what to do” and “what not to do”. For example, when building a facility for the elderly, we should not give them everything, such as a library and exercise facilities, so that their entire lives do not end within the facility. It’s about thinking about things that should not be made. Since the advocacy of human-centered design, many aspects of “design for people” often deprive people of independence. If we look at the relationship between creators and consumers in the Japanese industry from this perspective, we see that, as designers, we should no longer be “creating”. Instead, we should shift our focus to educating and creating an environment in which consumers are not overly dependent on services and products, and in which people can live in harmony with their own independence. I think the significance of studying abroad is that we get the opportunity to reflect on such fundamental questions about our actions and thoughts. 

2. Challenges 
Once I got used to the project, I developed the ability to get through it without having to work hard. I think it was important to manage my motivation because there was a time in the middle of my study abroad period when I was doing things that I didn’t understand but it was ok. Also, the daylight hours are short in Finland during winter, so if you don’t take the opportunity to go outside, you will get depressed, so I think self-control was important. 

Advice to Prospective Students 
I think this is a valuable opportunity to think about many fundamental questions, and I think it will be a meaningful time if we can have a mindset that allows us to enjoy “getting lost”. 

Do you have faced any problems during your stay at the study abroad destination or have any suggestions for improvement? 
When I first arrived, I had a lot of problems with transportation commuter pass, cell phone carriers, etc. Hence, I think it is important to get this information from friends. 

Shotaro To