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The Thomas Blake Glover Aberdeen Asset Scholarship

The Thomas Blake Glover Aberdeen Asset Scholarship was created in commemoration of the work of Thomas Blake Glover, the Aberdeenshire-born entrepreneur credited with opening Japan up to the West. The scholarship provides young Scots with the opportunity to learn about business and Japanese culture, and in doing so, further improves Scotland’s historic links with Japan. In 2015, the successful candidate spent 10 weeks in Japan studying the language and completing work experience. Here are the adventures of Caroline Marshall, the winning Scholarship student in 2015.

The Adventures of Caroline Marshall:

It is probably a little strange to have a complete fascination with a country that you have never even been to. This thought was at the forefront of my mind in December 2014, as I prepared my application for the Thomas Blake Glover Aberdeen Asset Scholarship. Little did I know that, through the work of the Japan Society of Scotland, this was about to change.

As the recipient of the 2015 scholarship, I spent ten wonderful weeks in Japan. During this time, I had the fortune to study at top Tokyo University, intern at the third largest law firm in Japan and see all the sights I had been dreaming of for over ten years. Classes at the International Christian University (ICU) in suburban Tokyo were by far the most challenging yet rewarding experience of my life.

Through the work of two wonderful teachers and my supportive classmates, I returned to Scotland having studied one year of written, university level Japanese and with the skills to self-teach new material. To be the only European woman on the course was an honour and I cherish the time I spent teaching my friends and classmates about Scotland. ICU was a unique environment where I met new people from other cultures, to whom I could instantly relate because of our mutual love of Japan.

Some time on, I remain in regular contact with a number of fellow summer course participants who I believe will be lifelong friends of mine. We all think of our time at ICU so fondly, but it wasn't all spent in the library. Various cultural events organised by the university meant that we could experience a variety of Japanese activities with ICU staff to guide us. To list only a few, these included flower arranging classes, trips to the theatre, visiting museums and shrines and the chance to see a fireworks festival. I also had the magical experience of turning 21 in Tokyo, just two weeks into the course. I cannot imagine ever having a better birthday than one involving karaoke in Shinjuku and more sushi and matcha (green tea) ice cream than I should admit to having eaten! Luckily, the sadness at having to leave ICU was softened by the excitement I felt as an intern at a commercial law firm in the glamorous Roppongi Hills.

Even from the perspective of an intern, TMI Associates appeared to have been taken straight from the page of a film script. The hours were long, the work was fast-paced and I loved every moment of it. I spent two weeks working on copyright disputes, which gave me an opportunity to apply what I had learned at university and gain experience in the area that I hope to work in someday. I was inspired by everyone at TMI and strive to emulate their kind, yet hardworking and professional attitude. Being mentored by a successful, multilingual, female partner gave me a greater appreciation of the impact made by women in the legal field, who have paved the path for my own success by ensuring that my generation could face fewer gender specific obstacles when forging their career.

The scholarship has given me so much more than a wonderful experience in Japan, as it has helped me to achieve other goals. A few months after I returned, I was successful in gaining a training contract with a multi-national commercial law firm, who saw these experiences as an asset to their UK-based Japan legal team. To know that in the future I may have the opportunity to combine my passion for Japan and for the law is the greatest gift I could have been given. For this, I will remain truly grateful to Aberdeen Asset Management and the Japan Society of Scotland, with whom I hope to continue to work for years to come.

Image credit: Aflo Co. Ltd. / Alamy Stock Photo

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