Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University


International Programs

SECOND (Introduction to Intercultural Research Methods Program)

SElf CONfirmation and Development program
  • Teamwork
  • Challenge Spirits
  • Reflective Learner
  • Use of Foreign Language

A Fully Bilingual Japanese-English Field Study of Southeast Asia


The SECOND program (SElf CONfirmation and Development program) is designed to offer 1st - 3rd semester students (domestic and international) an understanding of the cultural diversity of Southeast Asia through engaging in research work there for approximately two weeks. Based on FIRST, APU's 4-5 day intercultural experience program for first-year students, SECOND takes this content and develops it further.

The program is run entirely bilingually, in Japanese and English. During the roughly two-week on-site field research period that is the main part of the program, participants travel around Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Laos entirely under their own power as a group and carry out their mission, such as reaching their destinations, which will be decided by "lottery", and conducting investigative surveys. Participants will gain initiative and confidence through carrying out research in another culture where they cannot communicate through language. Additionally, in having participants engage with their on-site studies at length, the program aims for participants to become highly skilled in intercultural observation and to acquire research method basics that can connect to their subsequent major education.


Just like FIRST, this program revolves around small group work. In pre-program classes, participants will research and learn about the countries to which they will travel and they will prepare the surveys that they will collect. In the on-site field research, participants will reach their destinations, which will be determined by lottery, entirely under their own power as a group and carry out their surveys. Participants will give presentations on the results of their investigations in the post-program classes (which, with SECOND, will be held in the destination countries).

→Please review the FIRST program page for a detailed outline of the program.

Grow with SECOND! 1
Deepening Understanding of Southeast Asia's Diverse Societies and Cultures

Southeast Asia is the field for SECOND. In the pre-program classes, participants gain an understanding of the countries to which they are being sent, an overview of the region, and the cultures. They also undertake research on the regions to which they will be sent and select a topic for investigation. During the on-site field research, participants will become highly skilled in intercultural observation through interaction with local individuals in Southeast Asia.
Even though the countries in the region are grouped together and refered to overall as Southeast Asia, the situations surrounding the religious, cultural, political, economic, and social systems are varied. Participants will learn to understand each land through their own experiences and, while moving between multiple countries, also how cultures cross borders.

Grow with SECOND! 2
Improving Proficiency in Japanese-English Bilingual Communication

Both domestic and international students can participate in this program. Classes are integrated, proceeding bilingually in Japanese and English. The presentations on the results of group’s investigations will be held in that student's opposite language (English for students admitted on a Japanese-basis, and Japanese for students admitted on an English-basis). Participants will be able to boldly challenge themselves precisely because they are lowerclassmen who are not yet comfortable in their opposite language. The program aims for improvement in communication skills through multicultural collaborative study where mixed groups of domestic and international students hold discussions and undertake on-site field research and through interaction with citizens in those locales who sometimes do not understand English.

Grow with SECOND! 3
Looking at One's Unique Traits and Developing Toughness

In SECOND, participants travel around four countries entirely under their own group members’ power during the approximately two-week on-site field research period. While the language and cultural differences will stimulate their curiosity, there will also be times when situations to which they find it difficult to adapt will arise. Further, they will come to see their own strengths and weaknesses as they face a variety of stresses, such as the conflicts of opinion that occur in long-term group work as well as issues with their physical fitness and health. As participants overcome difficulties on their own and, sometimes, together with their friends, they will acquire the problem-solving skills, survival skills, and stress tolerance that makes it possible for them to be active outside their comfort zone*.
*Comfort Zone: that pleasant place where one can relax and there is no stress.

Application information for SECOND program
In AY2021, fall SECOND program has been cancelled because of entry restrictions and mandatory quarantine requirements in place in the destination countries.

Please refer to Academic Office website for past application information.

Spring SemesterThe recruitment has been cancelled Fall SemesterThe recruitment has been cancelled
Program Period : August - September (approximately 2 weeks) February - March (approximately 2 weeks)
Accommodation : Self-arranged by program participants Self-arranged by program participants
Country/Area : Singapore・Malaysia・Thailand・Laos Singapore・Malaysia・Thailand・Laos
Application Period : April September - October
No. of students : 70 students 70 students
Eligibility : 1st ‒ 3rd semester students (domestic and international) 1st ‒ 3rd semester students (domestic and international)
Credits : 2 credits 2 credits
Program Fee : Approximately 137,000 JPY Approximately 137,000 JPY

*as of AY2019

BIAN Wenjing (APM)
AY2018 Spring Participant

The SECOND program was one of the most unforgettable experiences of my life. Not only because I had a chance to enjoy many “firsts” with my friends, but also because I improved my communication abilities in Japanese and other areas. I learned how to analyze the data we collected in the research and how to draw out the most precise and valuable information from the data, both of which are very useful skills in university. I really appreciate that I could have this opportunity at the end of my first year.

AY2019 Spring Participant

Travelling across 4 countries in Southeast Asia, determining each destination by lottery. I believe the activities of this program contributed greatly to my personal growth. In this program, we proactively carried out surveys and conducted presentations. And although we had done sufficient preparation in Japan prior to departure, unexpected events occurred and allowed us to improve our ability to make on the spot judgements. Being in an unfamiliar environment, conflicts arose amongst team members. However, we were able to resolve them one by one and clear various tasks. I believe this is an invaluable experience for continuing my studies at APU where groupwork is abundant, and to contribute to the international community going forward.