Study Abroad

Scotland, UK

Ryutaro Niikura

My decision to study abroad was based on the idea that “I want to be a world-class person.” I chose the University of Edinburgh in Scotland as my destination because it is one of the world’s top-ranked universities. But, as it turned out, almost none of the students there are actually aware of that fact. They are all wrapped up in the research and activities that are of interest to them. When I realized that I was relying on an external factor—university rankings—to elevate myself, I wondered what it was that I could become truly passionate about. I decided to research Scotland’s traditional Fair Isle knitwear, which was worn by members of my beloved Beatles. In order to gain a better understanding of why Fair Isle knits have sustained their popularity for so long, I headed to Shetland, the origin of Fair Isle knitwear, which is located in the farthest northern region of Great Britain. The local people there understood my passion for Fair Isle, and made me feel welcome. I was able to interview them while I stayed there, and I learned many things that you cannot learn from books. As a result, I had the unexpected good fortune of being featured in a magazine in Shetland. Through those experiences, I gained the valuable realization that being a “world-class person” means being someone who has the courage, diligence, and individuality to pursue whatever it is that they really want to do.