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The student news site of Westford Academy

WA Ghostwriter

The student news site of Westford Academy

WA Ghostwriter

La Ferla travels across the world for college, returns to second home

La+Ferla+will+be+attending+Sophia+University+in+Tokyo%2C+Japan+in+the+fall.
Provided by Leo La Ferla
La Ferla will be attending Sophia University in Tokyo, Japan in the fall.

Going off to college is an experience defined by both excitement and uncertainty. For many students, it is their first time living away from their family and interacting with an entirely new community of people. Moving across the world would normally only heighten that uncertainty, but for Class of 2024 WA Graduate Leo La Ferla, going to college in Japan is a return to his second home.

In the fall, La Ferla will be studying business and economics at Sophia University in Tokyo, Japan, a decision largely influenced by his Japanese heritage.

“My mom is from Japan and I learned Japanese alongside English at home through speaking to her and watching Japanese television,” La Ferla said. “Since I’ve lived in the U.S. for my whole life, I wanted to explore the other half of myself and try living in Japan as I really enjoy being there whenever I visit.”

From a young age, La Ferla has explored his heritage in a variety of ways, both inside and outside of his home. One defining way Japanese culture was woven into La Ferla’s life was his attendance of the Japanese Language School of Greater Boston.

The school was established in 1975 in Medford, Massachusetts as a place where children with Japanese heritage and children of other nationalities could go to strengthen their Japanese language skills and knowledge of Japanese culture. According to La Ferla, he originally planned to attend a local college, but after more consideration, he realized that choosing a college farther away could be the perfect opportunity to explore and expand his boundaries.

“I have not always wanted to go to college overseas […] but it just made sense as I think it’s important to step out of your comfort zone and I can’t think of a better opportunity to try living in Japan than now,” La Ferla said.

Going to college in a different country is not the only aspect of exploration in La Ferla’s future at Sophia University. Although he knows he will be studying business and economics, La Ferla will also be taking classes in a strong interest of his—computer engineering. 

“I am planning to pursue some sort of engineering but I am undecided on that,” La Ferla said. “I’m accustomed to computers and have written multiple intricate guides on computer hardware so I am considering that but I am planning to sample courses and see how I like them.”

Within the WA community, according to La Ferla, his interests have always been supported and encouraged. A memory that stands out in La Ferla’s mind is his conversations with English teacher and Class of 2024 advisor, Lynn Bonakdar.

“[Bonakdar] was someone I could always go to and talk to about any subject. She was always very helpful with her advice and fun to talk to,” La Ferla said. “I would tell her and bring some Japanese-related things and she always listened and tried things I brought and I am very thankful for her supporting me through high school.”

Aside from allowing him to step out of his comfort zone, Sophia University’s location also benefits La Ferla because of its lower cost of tuition compared to many U.S. universities. With the lowered cost and the university’s location in the middle of Tokyo, La Ferla will be able to enjoy the bustling, bright city and avoid student debt in the future. 

In addition, the move opens opportunities for his family as well, such as allowing his parents to move to Japan with him. 

“[Going to a Japanese college] will take a burden off of me and my parents and let them retire early and live comfortably in Japan,” La Ferla said.

While moving so far away from home can be a nerve-wracking experience, La Ferla’s trips to Japan with his family have made the decision to travel much easier. Still, according to La Ferla, his switch from staying for a few weeks to staying for months at a time is one of his main worries. 

Moreover, one of the more difficult aspects of moving outside of the U.S. is a larger distance from his friends, but La Ferla hopes he can stay in contact with them while also forging new friendships in Japan.

With his move to Japan for college, La Ferla is facing large choices farther down the road as well, including whether or not he will stay in Japan after his education. Although the prospect of life in a different country across the world can be filled with worry, La Ferla prefers to think about the opportunities the move opens.

“I am most looking forward to meeting new people and exploring the culture to decide if I want to live there permanently,” La Ferla said. “It’s scary to think about going to a foreign country during my college transition when it’s already a difficult change, but I want to embrace the change and think about the fun adventures ahead.”

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About the Contributor
Srivas Arun
Srivas Arun, News Editor
Hello! My name is Srivas Arun and I am currently a sophomore  and a co-news editor for the Ghostwriter. You can find me on the cross country and track teams year round. I am interested in spreading information to the student body about WA and its community.

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