Surprises in London


Very much to our surprise on Wednesday 19 August 2015, our speaker was our scholar from the last Rotary year, Kohei Norota. Our scheduled speaker cancelled at about 6pm and we were very grateful to Kohei for stepping into the breech at short notice.

Kohei has been reading Development Studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London University and has a interest in Mobile Money – that is making financial transactions and transfers using a mobile phone. He is hoping to find an opportunity to develop his ideas in a banking or commercial environment.

He described how he had experienced three major surprises during his year in London.

Firstly, he was surprised by how tough it is to study in London. In some universities back in Japan, he would have been able to resit exams if they did not go well, and there was always course work and attendance to fall back on. However at SOAS, it all depended on an examination – the dissertation was only open to those that passed the exam! If you do not do well enough, you must wait a whole year to take the exam again!

Secondly, he was surprised by the two tube strikes he had experienced (and possibly by the one next week too!). Even though he could walk to where he was studying, when there was a tube strike everything seemed to grind to a halt. The traffic jammed, and the buses were too full to board. The second strike was not such a shock, and he felt very much like a ‘Londoner’ walking to his destinations. Despite the tube strikes, Kohei hopes to find a position in London when his studies are complete.

Thirdly, he was surprised by the extent of Rotary. After having his photograph taken with the Club President in 2014, he changed his Facebook profile photograph to one that included the Rotary wheel in the background! That led to contact with a whole load of new ‘friends’ in Facebook, including scholars past and present at various universities, including Rotaractors and including a guide in Turkey who had been working with a Rotary Youth Exchange group visiting his country.

Questions included a “Comparison of Japanese, Chinese and English teaching methods”, “What will you remember most of our country?”, and “What sort of job are you hoping for when you finish your studies?”.

We all wish Kohei every success in his career.

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