This week we talked to Satoko, a student and attorney whose dreams came true after learning English at EC Boston. She’s already returned to her school to give an inspirational speech to current students, and we thought it would be great for you all to know what she had to say about her EC experience.
A little bit about Satoko’s life before Boston…
I used to work as a public defender for eight years in Japan, and I came to Boston to study “the access to justice”. This is about reaching out to people who have difficulty accessing appropriate legal support due to poverty, disabilities, lack of education, and so on.
Her major aspirations…
I had two dreams: one was becoming a lawyer and the other was studying abroad. Fortunately, I passed the ‘bar’ exam when I was an undergraduate student and soon started my career as an attorney. I became one of the first public defenders in Japan.Through my job, I realized there were many people who are pushed to crime by poverty, which is tragic. The geographical distance from an attorney also prevented people from gaining legal support, and thus many people suffered.
I decided to set my goal to study ‘access to justice’ and saved up money. Two years ago, I achieved this, and I came to Boston!
Her decision to study at EC…
I was so busy that I didn’t prepare enough to apply to universities from Japan. I thought that I should leave Japan anyway and find a way later, and began to look for an English school that could give me I-20.
At EC, there were less Japanese students and that seemed a good environment for me to learn English.
First I only chose Boston as a place to study because it is close to New York, a city I loved most out of all American cities. Now, my favourite American city is of course Boston!
Why Boston is a great place to learn English…
I confidently recommend Boston to people who want to study English. I think Boston is one of the best cities in the world to study. There are many universities there, so students are always welcomed into the community. You can easily find calm, comfortable places to study; and I was very attracted by the Public Library which gives membership as long as you’re living here. In Boston, there are many free lectures held by universities and libraries, which could contribute to improving your skills outside of classrooms. Boston is safe, which helps you concentrate.
The main difficulty about being in Boston is…
I didn’t have challenges at EC Boston. However, because I arrived in Boston on January 5th, when it was freezing, I was struggling with the cold!
Her original level of English, before EC
The EC Experience
Teachers were always supportive and dedicated. They were not only making efforts to have us study in the best way, but also making efforts to entertain us. They chose topics like music, sports and movies which attracted us. I really enjoyed talking with them.
Being surrounded by students from all over the world was a fascinating experience. I made a lot of friends there, and some of them became my life-time friends for sure. On my last winter holiday I stayed for about 20 days in Brazil with a friend I met at EC and her family.
Her favourite thing about EC Boston
The most influential classes were TOEFL classes and Jen’s university preparation class. TOEFL is not only about your general English skills but also test-specific skills. Without TOEFL score (or other standardized English test), you cannot start an application for a university. TOEFL class helped me a lot in improving my score.
In the academic preparation class, I practiced presentation skills and note taking, which later helped me in grad school. Personally, I also loved the topics that Jen chose, which were American immigration history and the Jim Crow era. This knowledge also helped me to study criminal justice in a sociology department.
How EC prepared Satoko for university…
When I was looking for a grad school program, I happened to go to an admission event of Suffolk, which was on EC’s activity calendar. At that event, I met the professor of my graduate course, Master of Science in Crime and Justice Studies. He was a probation officer. Until then, I didn’t know that I could study criminal justice outside of law school, so I had been looking for a program in law school. Law school had LLM programs for international students, but most of them seemed different from what I wanted to explore.
By talking with the professor, I realised that the course might be what I was looking for. I checked other schools and decided to join this program, which seemed very unique and good for me. Their tuition met with my financial condition too.
However, the application deadline was too close to apply at that time. I asked personnel of their admission office, and fortunately they promised to wait for my application and even encouraged me. I prepared references from my old supervisors (references are not usual in our culture so it was stressful) I also wrote an essay that my teachers at EC helped with a lot.
Satoko’s future plans:
My original plan was to contribute my knowledge and experiences to improving the Japanese legal system for poor people. However, I now seek jobs in a more international setting to tackle social justice issues, such as poverty. I have job offers, so I’ll talk to people after going back to Japan.
Finally, some advice for future English students!
When you get confused with an application process, ask the university’s admission office. I know it would not very easy for an international student. However, it is very normal for them to be asked about their admission process. You don’t have to be overly nervous.
Getting a high enough score in TOEFL (or other standardized English tests) is very important. The earlier the better, so focus on this stressful test for a while.
Do you have a success story to share? Contact us by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Tell us about your EC experience and inspire others to learn English and open up a world of opportunities!