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Kaleidoscope of the Heart: Learn a foreign language and travel to broaden one's mind

Rika Kayama

I recently went to a bookstore as I wanted to read something that was unrelated to my job. I was attracted to a book with the title "Okane no Nagare de Yomu Nihon to Sekai no Mirai (The future of Japan and the world judging from the flow of money)" and bought it. I learned that the author was a world-renowned American investor. I thought the book had no connection to my work as I know almost nothing about money or investments.

According to the publication, this very rich investor loves Japan and has visited Tokyo and Kyoto many times. But he feels a sense of crisis over the current state of the nation. Some of the reasons he raises are Japan's declining birthrate, budget deficit and anti-immigration policies.

Though I believe there are various opinions in regards to these issues, I focused instead on the message he aimed at Japan's youth.

The author starts off by explaining that it's essential for Japanese to master a foreign language. He urges Japanese to learn not only English, but as many languages as possible, such as Chinese and Spanish. I believe many will agree with his view that by taking such action, people will be able to obtain a wider range of information and have more career opportunities.

Moreover, he suggests Japanese citizens live abroad for a while. While he does not imply that one should suddenly completely immigrate, he explains that people can acquire a deeper understanding of their own country by living overseas. Furthermore, he recommends people to live in countries like Colombia and Vietnam instead of countries like the U.S. and U.K.

I have never studied abroad and have only visited several countries as a tourist. However, I feel that the students I teach come back with a much broader perspective and give firm statements after studying overseas, even if they're abroad for just half a year.

At any rate, I believe the feeling is totally different from having an actual experience than just knowing in your head that the world does not only consist of Japan.

I was amazed and convinced by the author's advice. In the mindset of the investor, the world today is not centered around Europe, the U.S. and English.

I usually work in Japan and even if I want to look outwards, I can't steer away from thoughts like, "I want to learn English," and, "Let's attend a European academic conference."

I'm currently into learning Chinese, though I'm not even good at English. I thought that maybe I was just running away from reality, but it seems that my choice was not really a mistake. I'm sure learning some aspects of several languages and traveling to various countries are other options.

I want to recommend to young people to casually learn a foreign language and travel somewhere overseas, even for just a short period.

(By Rika Kayama, psychiatrist)

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