Suzuki Airi is a former member of the popular idol groupe ℃-ute and has been working as a solo artist since the group's disband in 2017. While living her busy idol life, she spared some time to sleep and study hard for the entrance examination of the college she aimed. We asked Suzuki-san, who challenged positively without compromising both her studies and work, and asked her how she managed to balance both activities.
While thinking of yourself 3 years from now, achieve everything you're able to do now
I didn't really aim to become an Idol, I just wanted to sing and dance on a stage, and enrolled in the music school of my office. I happened to pass the "Hello! Project Kids" audition at the same time as my school graduation, and it was a turning point in my life.
During elementary school, I worked after classes, and it continued for junior highschool and highschool. Before starting to work in the entertainment, I made a promise to my parents that I'll definitely go to university, therefore I chose a full-time highschool. It was pretty difficult to hurry everyday from school to work, but I was stimulated by the sight of my classmates also working hard for their club activities and their entertainment activities. (t/n Airi went to Hinode highschool, popular for being frequented by many (future) artists and idols). The fact I'm familiar with common experiences such as going somewhere after school with your friends or that sense of freedom after your tests finished gives me a precious material for lyrics writing.
If I look back, until my graduation from university, I've always balanced Idol work and school work. I think it's thanks to my family's "3 years rules" that I was able to accomplish everything, no matter how busy I was. It shares the idea that all of my efforts now will benefits the person I'll be in three years, and that I am the result of the efforts I did 3 years ago. Thanks to this family lesson, I'm always working towards the person I'll be in three years from now. It was definitely hard to balance Idol work and school work, but I don't regret it. That's because I managed every minute of these busy schedules that I am who I am now. I want to praise the me who was doing her best at that time (laughs)
I'm not really good at school work, but I always felt like I was creating something, and it gave me a sort of sense of accomplishment. Like when I was able to create a formula and finding the right answer to it, or when I succeeded to summary history events. Instead of taking notes during classes, I wrote the words emphasized by the teacher with a red pen, and I always created my own tests to hide the questions with a red sheet later. (t/n it's common in Japan to use a red sheet to cover up red ink, so you can learn by heart important words, grammar points or vocabulary when you're answering a quiz) That way, I didn't have to waste time organizing my notes before the test, and I made sure I wasn't missing the point of the teacher's talk. In order to balance both of my activities, I had to make some efforts even when I didn't have much time for it.
I started to attend a cram school from my second year of high-school. My days were like : rushing to cram school at 10 p.m. after work, study until about 2 a.m., wake up at 5 a.m. for another day of school. Since it was a cram school where classes could be taken by videoclass, I was able to study even if I went to the countryside for a photobook photoshoot, studying at the hotel on my computer, or going straight to the hotel after a live to study in my room, without participating in the after-live party. No matter how sleepy I was, a part of my was pretty proud, thinking "I might become very cool if I can overcome these hardships". I can't do that anymore though (laughs)
Thanks to all of these, I was able to pass successfully. However it's not the result of my only strenght but also thanks to the people around me. A mother that always made me healthy meals and always came to pick me up, a manager that helped me adjusting my schedules to prepare my exams, a cram school teacher who kindly helped me choose a university. I learned about this later, but the cram school teacher helped me for the university entrance interview even though he was in the middle of recovering from an illness. For those people too, I tried to pass the exam with a strong feeling of "I have to do it". After entering university, I decided to definitely graduate in 4 years, without doing a school year abroad.