The Youth Element: Young Beginnings: Nostalgia, Youth, and School

Welcome to the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada’s new podcast series about youth cultures in East Asia. Over the next several weeks, join co-hosts Justin Kwan and Linda Qian as they travel across five cities in East Asia: Shanghai, Taipei, Hong Kong, Tokyo and Seoul, to listen to the voices of millennials and learn more about contemporary East Asia through their views and the stories of their own lives.

The Youth Element is now available on iTunes and Google Play Music!

The Youth Element Ep 1: Young Beginnings: Nostalgia, Youth, and School

The first episode of The Youth Element is all about new beginnings: the beginning of this podcast series, the beginning of our personal journeys in creating this project, as well as the beginning of a brand new school year. So, in the first half of this episode, join us, Justin and Linda, as we break down what The Youth Element is all about, and as we offer our listeners a sneak preview of what’s to come throughout the series. Then, stay tuned as we dive straight into our first topic of the series: school.

On the surface, maybe an 18 year old in Vancouver and an 18 year old in Tokyo aren’t so different. Perhaps they share similar concerns over pressures to get their grades up in that final year of high school, or maybe they’re all looking to make some new friends, or join cool extra-curricular activities. But how do these seemingly similar things play out in different contexts? In our first episode, we explore school life across the cities we visited in Asia to show how different cultural and societal practices and norms play out in the lives of students. From the rosy nostalgia of youth cinema, to the grueling hours spent in class and in cram schools; and, from harsh familial expectations, to the rise and commodification of academic competition, we hash out how youth are navigating and coping with their everyday struggles in their own respective societies.



South Korea


*Take the Gaokao for yourself!

Hong Kong



The views expressed here are those of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views of the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada

Linda Qian

Linda Qian is a Post-Graduate Research Fellow at the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada, and a graduate from the University of Oxford’s School of Interdisciplinary Area Studies.

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