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‘I feel guilty’: Japanese student in Leiden

Leiden University would like to express our sincere sympathy to students and staff who have been affected by the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. On Tuesday 22 March there is a meeting for Japanese students and staff. Mari Hosho, an exchange student from Japan, studying psychology at Leiden University, reflects on the disaster that has struck her homeland.


Mari Hosho
Mari Hosho

'At first, I could not believe what had happened. When I woke up on what I thought would be an ordinary day, I had a brief email from my mother that there had been an earthquake but that she was fine. Since earthquakes are very common in Japan, I didn't think too much of it. But when I saw the reports in the news, and checked out facebook and twitter, I realized just how serious it was.’

‘Ever since then I have felt guilty about not being there for my loved ones, not sharing the experience, not being able to help when they are having such a rough time.

Fortunately, all my friends and family are all right. Every hour I check the news and my emails  to keep track of what’s going on.’

Common aim

'I think it is very interesting that the community, that is supposedly made up of many different values and ideas, is working towards one common aim: to help the north-eastern part of the country where the destruction is the most severe. It gives me and my fellow students courage to see how the Japanese people are showing so much strength in dealing with this disaster, but at the same time we feel isolated because we are not part of it.’


I know I have two exams coming up next week, but all I've been thinking about these past few days is Japan… not only my family and friends, but also the country itself.’

‘My Japanese friends and I had a dinner together last night. We shared our feelings about not being able to play our part when the whole of Japan is working together. We all feel very upset about what has been happening. At the same time, I receive so many kind and caring words via emails as well as face-to-face. I cannot believe how concerned people are. It’s very encouraging.’

Family and friends

'Many people in Japan tell me that they are glad I am not there. But I never feel that way. I'd rather be with my family and friends; I want to be there for them. I know there is not much I can do because it's so far away, but still when I see blue skies in peaceful Leiden, I cannot help wishing I could share some of my plentiful groceries or the moment of peace with the people back in Japan.’

Help and support for Japanese Students in Leiden
Japanese students in Leiden can contact the Student Support Service for help and support:
Jantien Delwel (+3171 527 3245) and/or Geraldine O'Connor (+3171 527 8026).
A special gathering for Japanese students in Leiden will be held on 22 March (by invitation only). Please contact Jantien Delwel for more information.

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