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Student Spotlight Interview: Tiancui Liu

May 18, 2018

Please introduce yourself.

My name is Tiancui (Paul) Liu and I’m a 23 year-old international student from China. I used to be a super fan of Japanese manga and anime but a consistent interest has always been politics and the culture of Japan.


Why did you choose the Japan Studies Program?

I graduated from the International Relation department of Fudan University and I chose Sino-Japanese relationship as the topic of my graduation thesis. I felt like my perspective was deeply biased, but I could not figure it out. That’s why I chose to study in America: to reevaluate my undergraduate study from the Western side.


Would you say that you have changed (intellectually, personally, etc.) as a result of attending the Japan Studies program?

Yes, of course. The study experience here has broadened my horizon profoundly. Not only in politics, but also religion, anthropology, history and various other topics. New knowledge is always overwhelming. And I also feel lucky that I have chosen Seattle and the UW.  The liberal political atmosphere offers me a great experience in democracy.


What were your research topics for your MA completion?

I wrote two research papers for professor Kenneth Pyle and Robert Pekkanen respectively. The first one is mainly about the postwar success of Japanese lay Buddhist organization Soka Gakkai and its political involvement. The second one is an analysis of the failure of major opposition party DPJ by keeping track of its personnel structure change.

As you can see, I’m a big fan of Japanese party politics.


What advice would you give prospective and current Japan Studies MA students?

As an international student, I struggled to keep pace with my American peers, especially in language.  Advice for future international students:

  • Try to get adapted into your new environment as soon as possible.
  • Frequent conversations with program advisors, professors and cohorts are very helpful. They are friendly, patient, and willing to help.
  • Of course study is of top priority, but being social, hanging out with friends and meeting new friends is also part of overseas culture and study.
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