International student and multi-sport athlete feels at home here

International student and multi-sport athlete feels at home here

While still a young teenager in Tochigi, Japan, Shinji Yamamoto decided he needed to learn to speak English to have the best career opportunities. He came to Nova Scotia because, he says, “Canada has a very good community.” So good, in fact, Yamamoto might stick around after he’s done at King’s.

It was the men’s soccer team home-opener. King’s economics student Shinji Yamamoto had just made the team. He will never forget what it felt like to step onto home turf for the first time in front of the boisterous Blue Devil fans.

“Everybody came to watch the soccer game,” Yamamoto said. The crowd sang, chanted and danced to Yamamoto’s delight. “King’s [comes] together, which is really good.”

Sports currently take up a lot of space in Yamamoto’s life. He’s also on the badminton team. As a multi-sport athlete and part-time employee at King’s gym, he’s immersed in the athletics community, but his focus remains on his academics, too. “To play sports I need to get good marks,” Yamamoto said. He wakes up early to study, finishes homework in between practices and tries to get enough sleep to be able to balance it all.

Leaving his native Japan for a high school in Cape Breton, Yamamoto said he wanted to learn English at a young age, so he could broaden his career opportunities. “I decided to come to Canada because I thought that Canada has a very good community,” he said.

“I’m really happy to be here.”

Yamamoto hasn’t been disappointed. Sports have helped, but off the field his transition was fairly smooth. “I had really good host parents. I was just there for every Christmas, Easter, any big break and stuff. And, I always get support from my friends, my family,” he said. “Of course I miss my [birth] family [in Japan], but also, I really enjoy staying here.”

Adapting to life at King’s was pretty painless for Yamamoto, even though it was all new. He loved living on campus first year. His residence was Alexandra Hall. “It was very interesting to me because I’ve never been in any residence or something like that in Japan.” He met a lot of people and made new friends. Before he knew it, he was part of King’s living and learning community, bouncing ideas off his peers and helping each other with homework.

As a fourth-year economics major, many of Yamamoto’s classes are now at Dalhousie University. Drawing from King’s partnership with neighbouring Dalhousie University, King’s students like Yamamoto can build a combined and customized degrees that reflect their individual interests. King’s students can access King’s and Dalhousie’s combined resources. They can choose from literally thousands of courses, dozens of degree options, and about 100 exchange programs.

King’s and Dalhousie

The close relationship between King’s and Dalhousie is a great asset to students, said Yamamoto. “King’s students get lots of benefits from Dalhousie as well. We can use King’s gym, we can use Dalplex [Dalhousie’s gym], we can use any library, and Dalhousie has lots of classes to choose from. It’s a good way to learn.”

Now in the final year of his degree, Yamamoto is not necessarily in a rush to get back to Japan. “I’m really happy to be here,” he said. He has enjoyed his time in Halifax and Nova Scotia. He could see himself sticking around. “If I have the opportunity to stay here, then I would love to stay here and try to find a job which would be very sweet.”

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