Mari Fujiwara

alumni_mari.jpgGraduated 2017

Double Major in  Philosophy and the School for Advanced Studies in Arts and Humanities

Hometown: Japan

Current Activity: Research Master Media Studies at the University of Amsterdam; Social Media Manager and Strategist at Thought For Food   

What attracted you to this program?

The unique interdisciplinary approach in the humanities appealed to me the most as I was not sure what I was really passionate about before I started school. I also really liked the idea of having a small group of students in a year and a great mentorship from having professors very close to us, especially as an international student - because I could definitely appreciate more help than other students back then when it was challenging for me to read and write in English at the academic level.

"I felt like I belonged somewhere at this giant institution like Western. It is very unique especially during undergrad that professors and all of your classmates know you by your first name."

What are your thoughts about life as a SASAH student? What makes it unique?

I really liked that we had various subjects. It was a great way to find out what I liked and what I was interested in. I also appreciated a periodical follow-up/check-up with the director, Joel. I felt like I belonged somewhere at this giant institution like Western. It is very unique especially during undergrad that professors and all of your classmates know you by your first name.

How did your relationships with other SASAH students positively affect your experience at Western overall?

So many different ways - my English level definitely improved thanks to them. It was very important because good communication skills are so crucial to having a good life in general. I also learned a lot from our fellow students since they were studying all different things outside of SASAH - creative writing, history, biology - and hearing them talk in class or outside really inspired me to explore different areas. I also learned a lot about Canada. Knowing where they grew up, what they like to do in nature, what they eat and all of other things were definitely perks of being the only international student at the time.

How has SASAH prepared you for the job market and/or graduate school?

I'm doing my master's program in media studies at the University of Amsterdam, and currently writing my final thesis. SASAH prepared me to discuss, write, and just communicate my thoughts and any complex matters. I hope this skill is well recognized in the job market as well.

What lessons and skills contributed to your success after you graduated?

Writing skills, problem solving skills, communication skills and decision making skills, for example, when to take a break, what to prioritize, etc.

As an experienced graduate, do you have any advice for current SASAH students?

It is very challenging from time to time, but it will end one day, so just do it even when you cannot put your 100%. Take advantages of all the supports around you because they are there to help you. Make as many connections there.