In Japan, as in many other parts of the world, not all students who take university entrance examinations are admitted to their first choice of university.

For this reason, some students spend additional years studying or gaining experience before trying again the following year (and for some, the year after and after, etc.). Such people are called 浪人 rōnin in Japanese, a word which some of our readers may recognize as a "lordless samurai" in the Edo period, but which also means "wanderer." The modern meaning reflects the notion that those who didn't get into university after graduating are in a "state of limbo" until they do.

New graduate 濱井正吾 Shōgo Hamai (@hamaishogo1111) entered Waseda University, one of the top universities of Japan, at the age of 27.

Prior to entering, he had taken transfer exams at different universities and also worked at a company.

He had, in effect, been a rōnin for nine years.

In March 2022, Hamai graduated from Waseda University at the age of 31. As he admits in a Tweet that has garnered over 11,000 likes at the time of writing, the experience has made him a changed man.

And to prove his point, he posted two photos, one showing him on the day he entered, and another one showing him on the day he graduated:

Reproduced with permission from 濱井正吾 Shōgo Hamai (@hamaishogo1111)

"←Me at Waseda's entrance ceremony (age 27)
→Me at Waseda's graduation ceremony (age 31)

I became a different person. Especially my facial expression."

When he first entered the university, Hamai's expression was stiff and he looked very nervous.

On the other hand, after graduation, Hamai has a big smile on his face and you can tell that he is in such a better place emotionally.

He describes his expression at the entrance ceremony thusly:

"I was anxious, not knowing if I would fit in because of my age.

In addition, I had not moved my facial muscles much during my life as a rōnin, so I was unable to change my facial expression, which contributed to my stiff appearance.

In Japan, most students enter college or university between the ages of 18 to 20.

At 27, Hamai was about 8 years older than the first-year students around him.

The age difference, as well as his different background, made him look uneasy.

Looking back on his four years at Waseda, Hamai said that he was "fortunate to be surrounded by great people who supported" him.

In reaction to the Tweet, many people commented on the drastic change in his expression:

  • "...It's wonderful! With that smile on your face, I know you'll get through whatever comes your way from here on out!"
  • "Slow and steady wins the race. I guess he entered Waseda University so he could beam that smile on graduation day."
  • "I, too, am in the process of studying to enter my first choice of university, having failed once. I want to experience elation like this one day."

Before entering Waseda University, Hamai says that he lacked self-confidence and was sometimes criticized by others for his status.

With such negative experiences as a springboard, he decided to study hard for the entrance exam so that he could one day face his naysayers and "prove them wrong."

It was the dogged pursuit of his dream, which endured for nine years, that enabled him to have such a fulfilling experience at Waseda University. Let's hope that he'll maintain the positive energy contained in that triumphant graduation day smile as he enters the next chapter of his life.

By - grape Japan editorial staff.