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Interview with Ai Komatsubara

I’m Ai Komatsubara and I am 23 years old. I come from Japan and I’m studying nursing at the Saitama Prefectural University in the 8th semester.

Why did you participate at the International Winter School?

I have been interested in Switzerland. I studied in class that it is a permanently neutral power and that there are many immigrants with various backgrounds. I wondered how Switzerland deals with cultural differences. Therefore, I decided to participate in the seminar and learn about it.


Furthermore, I wanted to learn more about interprofessional work that I learned at the Japanese university. Intercultural understanding is regarded as important and necessary in Japan. I have never had an opportunity to actually communicate with people with different cultural backgrounds, so I decided to join the seminar to experience it. For me, intercultural communication is very important.

Is there something particular that you like at this Winter School so far? What was the most exciting thing?

I like Winter School very much and also the atmosphere of the school. It is open and flexible. My English is not so good, but the other students help me a lot to translate and to explain the task. I felt that I was accepted at the school, and I was moved by that. I never felt uncomfortable. Even though I had some difficulties, I felt that learning is a lot of fun.

My host family is in Frauenfeld. I live there with a Swiss nursing student. She showed me cheese, chocolate and white wine with soda (gespritzter Weisser). I liked it very much. Yesterday I cooked with her.

How is studying at your university. Is it similar or different to here? What is different?

The university in which I study has the group of courses called “Interprofessional Work”. The students from five departments study together in some courses for four years. The courses become more challenging and practical as they proceed. Students learn the theory and practice of team-making and interprofessional work. In the fourth year, they have an interprofessional training session in a group of four or five students at a hospital or a nursing facility.

The university in Japan provides an opportunity to learn interprofessional work with the students in other universities who major in medicine, pharmacy, nutrition, and environmental design. The students learn to function as a team with mutual understanding in order to improve the service users’ life. The interprofessional training is valuable.

At the seminar in Switzerland, I was also able to work with people with a variety of backgrounds. One different point was that the seminar paid attention to cultural or ethnic differences, while the study in Japan did not focus on them. Also, I find that the students here are saying more their opinion or they raise their hands. In Japan, people are more quiet and polite.

How do like Winterthur as a city? Is there something you like in particular?

I like this city very much because people seem so relaxed. I see people coexist using different languages and cultural backgrounds. They may understand each individual rather than focusing on cultural differences.

What do take home with you from this Winter School? Inspiration, ideas, friendships, …?

I would like to learn the attitude to actively understand others. I think that this attitude also has a task for me to express myself clearly to others. I learned the way to understand my culture objectively when I tried to understand other cultures. I also learned the way to resolve problems flexibly when I encountered difficulties.