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Yujiro Nakamura, a former ELP learner. After finishing his studies, he decided to stay in Toronto. In this interview, Yujiro discusses his experience at the English Language Program (ELP) and his plans for the future

Could you briefly describe yourself: your goals, previous education, past work experience, and how you arrived here in Toronto, at the ELP?

The life I spent in Japan before I arrived here was mostly similar with a typical Japanese one. After my graduation from university, I started to work in bridal industry where I worked for almost 10 years. After, I felt some kinds of struggles, such as where I was living, what I could do, what I should do and what I want to do in the future. Then I decided to come to Toronto to expand my points of view, have new experiences, see what was happening outside of the place I was used to, and improve my English. The experiences that I have been having in Toronto have surprised me, shocked me and also have given me lots of inspiration for figuring out my future. 

Why did you choose the ELP?

I chose to study at the ELP at the University of Toronto because I wanted to study in a high-quality and well-educated academic setting. Now, I am satisfied very much with that decision. The ELP has passionate teachers, well-structured curriculum and highly-motivated learners. Everything encouraged and pushed me up to study hard in challenging environment.

The days that I spent at the ELP made me a more interactive person. Now I feel that my way of thinking has changed dramatically and positively. I feel that everything I am interested in doing is a possibility and it deserves to be pursued.

What have you been up to, after studying at ELP?  How did the ELP help prepare you for the world outside of school?

I am trying to be as active as possible and enjoy my life in Toronto.  I am currently working full time as a marketer at an ESL school and counselor for Japanese students.  I also work part time at a local-independent coffee shop as a barista on the weekends.  I volunteer as a teaching assistant for Japanese language classes at the University of Toronto as well as at other organizations.  Finally, I volunteer at Evergreen.  This is my favourite place in Toronto.  

Sometimes I miss the days I spent at the ELP and I think that I should have kept studying, so I am going to take some courses at the School of Continuing Studies, starting in September.  

I had already been independent before I came to Toronto.  Although, the days that I spent at the ELP made me a more interactive person. Now I feel that my way of thinking has changed dramatically and positively. I feel that everything I am interested in doing is a possibility and it deserves to be pursued.

What does your future hold? What are you going to do 10 years from now?

One of the inspirations I had in Toronto has been encouraging me to continue studying and now I am interested in adult education. Therefore, I am thinking about applying to Master’s degree program at the University of Toronto.  Also I would like to help people who are struggling with their future, like I was. So studying psychology could be helpful for accomplishing what I want to do.  Also, I am considering applying for permanent residence status.

What positive experiences or memories from the ELP stand out to you the most?

The days that I spent in Academic English were very intense and challenging for me because I had never studied English in an academic manner before. I stayed at the OISE building every day until around 10:00 pm to finish my homework and prepare for the next day. Other classmates were at a higher level than me and I was on the bottom of my class, so I had to keep studying hard.  This was a positive experience for me and what I expected to experience outside of Japan. Eventually, I was able to pass and finish my program and, as a result, I am proud of myself.

Do you have any advice for future or current learners at the English Language Program?

If I could say something to them, I would tell them to keep focusing on why they came to Toronto and don’t forget what brought you here. You will have essential and ideal experiences for your life while being outside of your comfort zone. Also the things that you want to do will be changing every single day by interacting with others and the world. So that, the most important fact that I think is keeping in mind your goals. Then your life will be more colourful!

Do you have anything else to add?

I just want to give my appreciation to everyone who has been involved my life in Toronto; especially, Steve, Dorothy, Bill, Beverly and the other amazing instructors at the ELP.  Also, thanks to Jessica for organizing the volunteering opportunities and to all my classmates and friends who I shared time with at the ELP.