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「WCF Mates! 」Vol. 3 Chika (EN)

Updated: Jul 25, 2022

WCF-Mates! is a segment where we feature and showcase the lives of those who have collaborated with WOMENCANFLY.CO. (Commonly used by Australians, ‘mate’ refers to a friend or someone you are close to.)

In Volume 3, we meet Chika Sakamoto, a Student Exchange Concierge living in Sydney.

We first met Chika at a business school seminar in Sydney. She participated with international students from her agent while also touring with a different agent on her own. Chika looked after us regardless of the fact that she was with another agent. We still remember clearly until this day how touched and grateful we were that we’d just crossed paths with a counsellor who was as kind hearted as she was.

These days, Chika is extensively active in Sydney by sharing Australia’s attractions and interesting features on social media, advising those who are interested in studying abroad and offering counselling for others.

“Studying abroad is a major milestone in one’s life”, says Chika. She talks about her dream of moving abroad because of the significant strengths she’d be able to learn while studying abroad and exploring other countries.

Who is Chika?

Prior to moving to Australia over 10 years ago, Chika was in charge of marketing at Asahi Beer.

Initially, Chika didn’t feel like her job at Asahi Beer was worth doing and had thoughts of leaving. However, when she consulted with her seniors who she respected, she was told that marketing was a useful skill that could be widely applied in almost any job. After hearing that, she became self-motivated and felt like she had to give it her all and embraced the exciting opportunity before her.

Chika’s results grew and opportunities to go on business trips rose accordingly. However, when she moved abroad, because she couldn’t speak English, she wasn’t able to deliver presentations that touched the hearts of others and thus felt a sense of failure.

It was at that time she took leave from work and decided to study English in Australia for a year. She intended to go back after a year but, “It’s ended up being more than 10 years”, laughs Chika.

Currently, Chika works as a Study Abroad Concierge at an agency called IS Student Exchange Network. There, she listens carefully to and advises prospective exchange students before they embark on their journey on things like their background, current situation, goals from now on, budget, duration of stay and introduces them to various options. Once their school and length of stay is decided, Chika supports them with various procedures, visa applications and of course, work experience.

Among them, it seems that there are people who she gives advice to even after they return to Japan. Studying abroad isn’t the end goal, it’s a milestone in your life. It’s always heartening for her to be able to be a part of and support someone during that time in their life.

A small glimpse of Chika giving light hearted advice on things outside of studying abroad

Chika’s amazing accomplishments

Even though Chika bears the title of being a Study Abroad Concierge, in actual fact, there is a wide range of people who seek her guidance, including those who haven’t decided on studying abroad yet or those who have the slightest interest in other countries. For that reason, Chika’s consultations feel more like life advice rather than study abroad advice.

A talent of Chika’s is working with people to help them with thinking about their life beyond studying abroad. She doesn’t blatantly push exchange students to do something and at times will ask, “Apart from studying abroad, what other choices do you have?” They then stop and think of a solution together. We’re convinced that there are many who end up discovering what they want to do while talking with Chika.

Chika also frequently delivers online seminars and appears on Instagram Live where she gives people the opportunity to ask about trivial topics such as, ”Is it okay to talk about something like [x]?”

In the middle of a student’s time abroad, even though there are times when they want to change the way they do things, each time someone revises their plans, the flexibility is a joyous aspect of Chika’s role as she is able to do things like helping them with a new way of studying abroad.

It is important that you become honest with how you feel in order to have a fruitful study abroad experience. As the duration of your stay is limited, it is important to make your time worthwhile.

A group of people naturally gather around Chika who is a people person