Profile: Masumi Arita

Read about SILS second year Masumi Arita, who is filled with love, compassion and passion.

HerCampus Waseda: What makes you happy?

Masumi Arita: A lot of things. Just being with people I really care about and doing things I love with them. I don’t mind doing things with other people, but I’d prefer to do stuff with other people. Food and knowing that I’m keeping myself healthy also makes me really happy.

HCW: Who inspires you?

MA: My grandfather. He was the nicest person I knew. He spent every day of his life as if it was his last, and he was never hated by anyone and never did anything to anyone. All he showed was kindness and he was such a great person to be with and he always told great stories. He treated everybody with respect and always gave second chances and made people feel as if they were a person. I feel like that’s really important, especially in our society today because I feel like we get so caught up in things that make us feel dehumanized and being able to meet someone that makes you feel like a real person is really important.

HCW: Where were you born and raised? Did you encounter any difficulties?

MA: I was born in Japan, [but] I went back to the United States because my parents split up when I was four. During the summers I would come back to Japan and go to Japanese school and experience the Japanese educational culture, such as cleaning and lunch duties. In Japan, it’s so normal, but that would never happen in the United States. I felt that the Japanese education was really good for me even though I only experienced it for a limited amount of time. The most difficult part for me was adjusting my personality to the different types of school I was sent to. At school in Japan I was a pretty big deal because I was a foreigner who could speak Japanese, but in the States I was a very normal person. I was pretty bottom line, probably because I wasn’t interested in sports or things that people were interested in. I was a theatre geek and someone who was in the choir and because of that I made friends from those group.

HCW: How did your upbringing impact your thought processes in any way?

MA: My dad forced me to go to tutoring in the States once or twice a week. When I was [going to tutoring] I used to say that I didn’t want to, but now I’m really thankful. I don’t know what I would have done if I couldn't speak the language here because it’s such a hard place to not speak the language in, and the language barrier is absolutely insane. If you can’t find your way around and can’t read the signs it’s a difficult place to navigate, and I’m really grateful. I didn’t really have big culture shocks. Since I went back and forth a lot, I would have a lot of microcrises where I would have something semi-big happen in one place and I would adjust and grow up. Because of that, I ended up not having a big culture shock because I grew up with both cultures at the same time.

HCW: How did attending an  international school change or impact you?

MA: First of all, I speak Jenglish (mixing Japanese and English) now. So I can’t get through an English sentence without thinking of a Japanese word [and vice versa], which I guess can have its good things, but in a professional situation it’s a little hard. I don’t think that being in an international school changed [much] except for where I ended up in the future. If I had stayed in the States, I would have ended up going to school there and coming back to Japan in the summer and not having many friends. But now that I’m here I have a lot of friends and a life here. I feel like because of that I have to move on my own and the most of [life] with my own motives and make plans for myself. I don’t think international school was a life-changing experience for me because everyone around me was so used to it and it was easy for me to adjust to that.

HCW: Where do you think that caring over friends comes from?

MA: People have naturally come to me for advice if they don’t know what to do in a certain situation, and it’s always a role in which I’ve played in other people’s lives. I think it’s just because I didn’t have a motherly figure at the time I was really young. [My mom] was in grad school, was working and was always busy so I only got to see her in the morning and at night. I think I end up caring for people because I never really had a lot of parental figures in my life that were prominent until now.

HCW: Any future plans?

MA: The end goal is to become a psychotherapist. Long story short, I went through a time where I was really depressed but I wanted to go to a therapist but it was very difficult for me to ask my dad for that because I didn’t want him to worry and for him to think that I needed to be hospitalized. I felt that psychotherapy is so important, and even if you’re not that depressed, talking about your problems for 30 minutes a week is so important. It’s something that should be normal in Japan but it’s not. I want to say that treating mental illness as completely different from physical illness is something that should be recognized. So many people kill themselves in this country. It’s such a waste of life and potential, and I just feel that I want to be the type of therapist I would like to go to and other people will want to go to. But for now, I just got into a modeling agency, and they’re telling me to lose a lot of weight and to construct my body to the standards of what accomodates to Japanese people’s style. Right now, I have to [lose weight], but later when I have more power and more ability and flexibility to say what I feel is on my mind and able to inspire, I want to be the person to start and change beauty standards in Japan.. What I want the Japanese society to understand is that people have different body types, so why restrict yourself to just one [body type].