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Global Asia Studies: Student Testimonials

Edwina Chu

Majors: Music and Culture
& Global Asia Studies

What factors contributed to you choosing this program? 

I considered two things when picking a university to go to: location and program. When I go to university I knew the main factor was going to be choosing a program I was genuinely interested in. UTSC was the best choice for me in the sense that it was close to my home thus easy to commute and there were plenty of programs for me to choose from. Music is my passion so Music and Culture automatically became my major. It is pretty general in content in comparison to the downtown campus, but we learn a lot and it is an unlimited subject post so anyone can get in with very little requirements. The overall size of the music program is smaller in terms of the number of people in the major so we get a lot more interaction with each other.
I was interested in East Asian popular culture and entertainment, and was learning Mandarin at the time (I still am!). I found out about Global Asian Studies and I figured it would be a program that would suit those interests and give me more variety than just doing art disciplines which was what I was first considering when I came to this university.

Can you describe this program? What is it actually like?
Music and Culture is both theoretical and practical. We learn about a variety of different fields in music that isn't just being a typical musician such as musicology, ethnomusicology, composition, community music, etc. You look at music history, different genres, how music works in society no matter where you are. This is balanced out with performance courses which allow you to show off your musicality and put those skills to good use. It's okay if you have no music background or experience and you are still interested. There are courses that will introduce you to the world of music. Just start from the beginning and work your way up.
As for Global Asian Studies, I have to admit I was a little worried going into this program. This is because Global Asian Studies fall under the Historical and Cultural Department. When I think of history, I think of readings that are extremely detailed which we are expected to know, lots of papers to write when my writing skills are not very good. Yes, there is a lot of reading and writing but at the same time the content was interesting.
This program may not be the most popular in this school, but as a result you get smaller classes and you recognize familiar faces who will become your friends during your university life.
What tips/advice can you provide to students just starting or considering this program?

  1. Get along with everyone and befriend them. Since class sizes are small, a lot of classes involve discussions and ensembles, so there will be a ton of teamwork involved. Add everyone you meet on Facebook, create groups for each class. Go to concerts, recitals both as a performer and as part of the audience. Be willing to meet outside of class time to practice together.
  2. Speaking of practice, practice!!!!  Know both your instrument and music theory well. Even if you are not taking any performance courses, you may be asked to play or sing in someone else’s piece or participate in a friends project. You will also be in the running for any solos that your professor has proposed. Side note: for some performance courses, you don’t need to be enrolled in the course; you can just join for fun. This can be used as accountability if you tend to slack.
  3. Be open minded as much as possible. Global Asian Studies covers all of Asia and the interaction with the rest of the world. Although it is easy to just study one country or study your own culture, it will not be enough. There’s China, Japan, Korea, Mongolia, India, Bangladesh, and much, much more. There’s also different topics such as law, religion, history, and even migration and food. You might find things you didn’t know interest you and even if the content is not cool, you might like the professor’s teaching style (watching Crash Course in class).
  4. Know your English and how to write academically. Taking courses in this program requires a lot of reading, writing, analytical, and critical thinking skills. I’ll admit, I am not good at any of these skills myself but I have improved since first year. In fact, as an initiative, many first year courses now allow use of the writing centre and its programs count as bonus marks towards your final grade in those courses.

What will you do with your degree after graduation? (Future plans?)

After graduation I hope to get a Master of Teaching degree from OISE or get a Consecutive Education degree from York. I want to teach Elementary students, passing on my knowledge to future generations. If I need teachable subjects, this is where my programs can come in. I could teach music or history if I combine my Bachelor of Arts degree with my future education degree.
Music can be taught to anyone who is interested in learning. It is hard to get into the music industry full time, but learning music whether for a career, or not, teaches us more than just the music itself. It teaches art, math, even communication, and motor skills. It is constantly all around us, so it is nice to know the role that music plays in life.
Global Asian Studies is a variety of different fields in one program. Many teachable elementary subjects could arise from this one program, such as history, geography, language, social studies. This program could potentially lead me into teaching internationally, since I have gained information about a lot of different Asian countries.  Also the academic writing skills that I have improved on over the years would mean I can just teach English alone which is a useful language in every country.
What has your academic journey during your time been like as you progress toward graduation?
Within my program the first academic year focused on the basics of music theory, and having exposure to different kinds of music in terms of genre, world music and music history.  It is making sure you have a strong base of notation, reading music, and honing your listening skills.
In my program the first academic year you are basically defining the term Global Asia in many different ways. You learn about the concept of globalization on a very large scale of the whole world, not just Asia. History is a major part of this program so you will learn things like major historical events and the effect that it has on Asia. 
Use the excitement of being in first year to explore different areas of the school outside of just your classrooms. Go to campus events and start joining clubs that interest you (but don’t have too much on your plate).
Second year, where by the way, is when most choose their majors. You will have a chance to really get to know the people in your program. First year’s general overview of the program will slowly start to break into specifics.
In music, this is a great time to get your performance courses out of the way, especially if you prefer to separate practical courses from written courses. There are courses where you will have to do both equally but this way you don’t have to think about practicing your instrument and studying music facts at the same time in one course.
In Global Asian Studies you will find that each course pertains to a particular region of Asia. You may choose to focus on one topic (ex. Religion, Art, Media), or a place (China, India, etc.), or mix and match. 2.0 credits may be Asian language courses (Chinese, Japanese, Tamil, etc.)  so if you have a language background or want to learn a new language as a skill, do it!
Third year is where you spend the most time on your interests. Compared to first year where you have very few options or all courses are mandatory, there are many courses in this year and most or all could count towards your program requirement. Some students in their third year take advantage of the international opportunities offered to them like summer abroad or exchange.
Fourth year – I know people will probably get senioritis at this point but remember to keep your grades up. You’re almost done! Take steps towards life after university. Start finding jobs (bonus if you are working in your field of study) so you can pay off the student debt. Another route would be to do graduate studies or take apprenticeship. Do your research on these and make sure you have references before you leave school.

Judy Perpose

Major: Global Asia Studies & Public Policy
Minor: City Studies

What factors contributed to you choosing your program(s)?

When choosing my programs, I focused on academic areas that I had the most interest in as an academic, professional and leisurely pursuit. In other words, I chose the programs that I enjoyed researching more so in depth than any other courses available. Also, I took a look at where those programs may lead professionally and chose the ones that I could see myself starting my career in. Finally, I picked the study areas that I knew I would be very happy to study not for grade or resume building, but just as a general interest. That way, I would know that after completing my program, I would still be a lifelong learner in that field.

Can you describe your program(s)? What is it actually like?

Global Asia Studies ties extremely well with my other courses in Public Policy and politics in general as the variety of course options that delve into history and culture can be applied to many concepts in the arts and sciences programs. It is a complete joy to be a part of the Global Asia Studies program as it is one of the few programs in the Arts & Sciences undergraduate program that has less broad and more regional and conceptual specific courses that provides students with a much deeper understanding of specific Asian regions. Each student leaves their courses in Global Asia Studies feeling like a true 'expert'!

What tips/advice can you provide to students just starting or considering this program(s)?

My advice to students just starting and considering the Global Asia Studies program to talk with Professors teaching some of its courses. They are always very helpful in recommending courses and opportunities offered specifically by the program that students may be interested in. Another tip I have is to take a look at their international travel and research opportunities. I was completely sold on the program when I saw how supportive U of T was of studying abroad for programs like Global Asia Studies in the financial aids they had available, the variety of partner universities and how easy it is to get transfer-credits from taking Global Asia courses abroad.

What will you do with your degree after graduation? (Future plans?)

After obtaining my degree, I hope to go into a master’s program in Public Policy with a focus on international relations with countries in East-Asia. I feel that Global Asia Studies will give me a unique background that not every Public Policy graduate has that will help me to find more research opportunities in Asia.

What has your academic journey during your time been like as you progress toward graduation?

In my first year, I had only chosen Public Policy as my only major. However, after taking one introduction course in Global Asia studies during my second semester, I knew right away that I wanted to keep learning about Global Asia and it's cultural, political and social interactions with the rest of the world. In second year, I had taken Mandarin, Buddhism and Chinese History and fell completely in love with the culture. So much so, that I had then taken on a Student Exchange opportunity at the Chinese University of Hong Kong throughout the month of August and studied Mandarin in Hong Kong. Now, I am entering third year with a new invigorated spirit to learn more about Chinese culture and how it is reflected in language. In my other political classes, I am now able to focus on international relations with Asia as my research topics with a much better background to refine my research. Going into graduation, I am confident that I have a good base to take me into my next steps in a graduate program.