Erika Uchiyama

MA Intercultural Communication (2016)

Alumni profile below: updated April 2018

I chose to come to Sheffield to study the MA Intercultural Communication because the subject was an area I hadErika Updated 2018 studied previously in Canada. I also had worked before in Japan. To exploit new opportunities and experiences, I changed my location to Europe, where I chose an English speaking country to start researching soon after I moved.

The duration of a British Master’s degree is just one year, so taking into consideration my future career, I chose the UK and Sheffield in particular. The University of Sheffield provides courses closely related to my research field. After comparing the size and the historical background of the various faculties at different institutions, I chose to come University of Sheffield.

I most enjoyed studying intercultural communication in practice at Sheffield. My Department organized a Professional Bridging Day, which led to my getting work as a volunteer researcher for the Development Education Centre South Yorkshire, helping professionals to create intercultural training materials. I had a great time and faced many challenges I’d never experienced before.

As an international student at Sheffield, I found that completing my course in English gave me confidence to study at an academic level in my non-native language. It’s an opportunity for us to challenge ourselves. At the same time, it was meaningful for me to research specific subject area, based on my interests, and be able to critique them and express my views in in more than one language.

Since graduating from the University of Sheffield, I’ve been working in Germany for the past two years. The Headquarters of my company is based in the EU, with its mother-company a conglomerate in Japan.

My education at Sheffield also paved the way to my next step in my career. The course materials, discussion topics and the presentation skills I learnt on my course are directly connected to my current work. Also, the company I am working for has a business relationship with the AMRC, so I’m still connected to Sheffield and can work with people in the EU and in Japan. I was introduced to this great research centre during my International Management module, and it’s a great example of where the University puts theory into practice. It’s been really helpful for me to know the AMRC facilities and have a connection with Sheffield when talking about this with my colleagues.

I work in the Industrial Marketing Department, where we create and analyze statistical information for the company, and propose new solutions to improve our business operations. I’m in contact with people from over seven different countries, on a daily and weekly basis, acting like a mediator across countries.

I learned the skills I need to do my job today whilst taking my Masters at the University of Sheffield. As an international worker, it’s crucial that I have communicative competences to be able to do an excellent job. As well as talking about delivering tasks on time, and providing appropriate products and services to customers, we also have to communicate about how we will adhere to other countries’ business regulations. My role is to express the feelings and ideas of colleagues and customers, using words which will help them reach a mutual understanding.

1. the International management course, the professor introduced us to this great research centre collaborating with the university of Sheffield and industrial companies. This is one of the embodiment examples that the University of Sheffield tries to put the theories into practice. To
In the future, I want to continue to work as internationally, with intercultural awareness, who can help build future business planning and strategy. At the same time, I’d like use my skills and experiences to help the Japanese community, because I don’t want to forget marginalized people or those trying to integrate within another culture. I published my research in a journal two months ago, and this is my life-long work. If I have the opportunity, I’d like to study for my PhD. Whilst working for a business, and researching are very different, everything is connected in my mind.

The best things about Sheffield for me are the Information Commons, a library with both static and dynamic features where students can research on their own, or practice presentations and projects with other students in groups. The IC is a space where students can gain and exchanging information with others in one place.

Also Sheffield is a great location for field research. I conducted interviews in five different cities and joined a number of seminars in the UK because it’s easy to travel in any directions from Sheffield. I think this is crucial for us from different countries to go around, meet new people, feel something new, and observe local rituals in the UK. Sheffield itself also has a diverse population and it’s been really interesting to learn how people live together from various cultural backgrounds.

Below is the text from Erika's original profile, written whilst here in Sheffield

Before coming to Sheffield, I studied English and American literature in Ritsumeikan University in Japan. During my undergraduate course, I studied abroad at the University of British Columbia to learn about intercultural Erika170communication and sociolinguistics. This experience encouraged me to study more about cultural diversity and heritage language acquisition for immigrants’ children. After graduation I worked at a middle school in Kanagawa for five years.

I chose the University of Sheffield because I wanted to do further research in intercultural communication and especially in applied linguistic study. Before coming to Sheffield, I felt like I did not have enough experience to communicate with people from all over the world. In my Department, the Modern Language Teaching Centre, we have a lot of opportunities to learn other European languages and culture. During class we can compare and discuss not only language matters, but also cultural issues through students’ practical examples from classmates from the UK and all over the world. I really like this atmosphere because I can learn about intercultural communication practically in class.

The preparation of the lecturers is one of the most valuable aspects of my course at the University of Sheffield. In Examples include political speeches, daily conversations in different languages, and looking at companies’ website designs across countries to analyse how people treat language and culture in their daily lives. The atmosphere in my course is really interactive between professors and students. They give us a lot of opportunities to speak out about our opinions and for discussion with classmates. The most important thing in our course is to exchange our thoughts frankly and deeply, given the types of issues we need to discuss in our class which can be difficult to talk about in daily conversations We experience how to build relationships of trust among people from different countries and we can learn how precious and valuable it is to be able to communicate with people beyond language and cultural boundaries.

The University of Sheffield has facilities which are both helpful and useful. For example, there are lots of common rooms we can use to discuss and prepare projects together in groups. At the English Language Teaching Centre there are language classes on offer for International students and their families. Though many people use the Internet for assistance and information, there are many people at Sheffield whom you can talk to in person within the Student Service teams if you need help.

After this course, I would like to work as someone helping international workers or immigrants to work and study. Today, every country has people from different countries and I would like to work as a mediator between people. I hope to help people accept their cultural differences and get along with each other in the future.

My advice for prospective students coming to the University of Sheffield would be to know your purpose of studying here before coming to Sheffield. When you come here, everyone will welcome you to this atmosphere. There are hundreds of societies to join, and activities to learn something new, in and outside of the campus via the Students’ Union. People in Sheffield are really friendly and tolerant towards international students. You do not need to worry about coming here to study as there are a lot of people who will be behind you to cheer you on along the way!

You can find out more about me and other East Asian students' experiences here in Sheffield on the East Asia blog.