Just an overview of the classes I took during my first semester at Chukyo University. A word of warning, I do not speak for all the students, nor did I intend on offending anyone with this post. These are just my thoughts on some of the issues discussed in class, which hopefully I can expound upon more later on in the year. For now, here is a brief summary of the classes.
The highlight of this class is both seeing the reaction and hearing the responses given by the Japanese students. Speaking in English was a requirement, so engaging in conversation was much easier for the international students. For starters, we began a topic of prostitution, something Japan deals with more often than foreigners think. Even girls in high school will apply for such jobs, and the reason is usually one of materialistic value. Another interesting topic was about the gender roles played in Japan. For example, many women get an education only to graduate in a degree for being a housewife or marrying a rich husband. I am not trying to bash on anyone, but this is just a topic we openly discussed. More or less, this class was interesting because unlike the other classes, I was able to understand and comprehend the thoughts of the other students and learn of their culture on a leveled ground.
Peace and Argument
A course given in strictly in Japanese but with English translation was a class I throughly enjoyed. The teacher was amazing, and I learned much from his lectures. Something which struck me the most was the poverty rate and economic decrease in Japan. Before doing any research, I had assumed Japan was doing fine due to its technology advances; however, this assumption proved wrong once I entered this class. According to my professor, Japan’s poverty rate is higher than Japan; the employment rate is decreasing as well. What I found interesting was the lack of interest the students had in the class, but why should students work harder towards a future which only requires you to graduate from college? The students in Japan seem more focused in high school than they are in college. This is not speaking for all colleges or classes, but from the ones I attended more than half of the students were concerned with what his or friend was saying than the lecture. One teacher against a hundred students in America is typical, but in Japan this number exceeds a teacher’s capability to keep students under control. Even with topics concerning poverty, racism, and debt in their own country it seemed as if half of the class was uninterested. Needless to say, the teacher of this class did his best to show open the minds of his students and allowed for speech through essays and discussions among peers.
Japanese Culture and Affairs
This was personally a great learning experience for me; not did we we learn from a great teacher, but the topics discussed were quite eye opening. For example, we were told the education system in Japan is a bit more focused on bragging rights and book smarts rather than hands on learning. America, while not being so high in test rankings, is still the place to go for higher education. However, despite being concerned with having high testing scores, has a decreasing rate for study abroad students and substantial amount of debt which is still increasing over the years. Another topic was the treatment of foreigners in Japan, particularly with other Asian countries. Japan is still in its earliest stage of immigration, and until it can accept change in the world the country will continue spiraling down the path of containment within its walls. An interesting class which was almost the complete opposite of the Peace and Argument class. Shows how much you can have the same teacher and same topics, yet with a group of students with a different mindset can change everything. The students in Japan are trained to take the words of a teacher as the absolute truth; there is no room for discussion and you learn strictly from the books.
More of a psychology lesson of characters within a movie than anything. Although, it was quite intriguing to get inside the role of a character an actor plays. Never would I have thought I would be taking a pop culture class, but this was a class unlike the ones I took back at my home institution. We learned about the roles of a reality and fake world, the development and movement of a film, differences between a bad and good movie, and also the the drive to which a character rides upon towards his or her goal. Topics which I personally enjoyed since I was able to watch movies I had never seen before. Honestly, not all of the classes were ones I wished to sit through, but the ones which interested me really made an impression on how I watch movies. I now pay attention to the little details and symbolisms throughout films, then afterwards formulate critical thinking questions.
Japanese Language Courses
I will be quite honest, my major is not Japanese nor did I ever intend on learning Japanese. However, this all changed once I set towards my goal of studying abroad. Personally, I found the language courses to be much more difficult than conversation settings. I had no motivation whatsoever to learn, but once I found a reason the classes became funner. It is too bad I did not discover this passion until the last two weeks of classes. Nevertheless, the senseis here all have their own methods to teaching, and while not all of them work on all the students, the Japanese senseis are doing their absolute best.
An interesting class indeed, especially if you have already taken this class, just the last time was in English. Traveling to and from Toyota campus was a hassle, and total cost was about 1200 yen (10USD). The teachers were kind enough to try and help my friend and I; however, the homework given was a bit hard to receive since it was only accessible through the computers and Toyota. Also, you apparently needed a different password from the one the office gave you back on the Nagoya campus. Other than this issue, it was interesting to learn Java programming from a different language. Aside from using BufferedReaders instead of a Scanner, the setup and concept was still the same. The projects given were more for practicing than learning, and I was a little disappointed when the homework gave us programs which were not enjoyable at all. As I wrote previously, it seems the Japanese are more of book learners rather than learning through entertainment, hands on, or a more interesting approach. Nevertheless, I am glad I took this class. Maybe not so glad of taking it first thing on Friday mornings, but learning from my Finnish friend on those days were moments I looked forward to every week.
Comparative Arts and Culture
Quite honestly, this class was enjoyable but the way it was taught was not as interesting. When you are taught strictly from PowerPoints, the attention of students are drawn towards anywhere except the monitor. Perhaps this class would be more interesting for the student involved in arts, but even when there was info on history aspects I did not find it easy to pay attention to the lecture. We learned of the kabuki art, Edo style art, and the architecture style between shrines and temples. Something I did find interesting was the influence of Chinese culture in the style, but eventually Japan broke away from this art in order to become its own art style.
One of the most difficult classes I have ever taken. Reason being was because I am terrible at retaining history information, and also the entire class was in Japanese. So, imagine yourself sitting there already knowing nothing about Japanese history, next the teacher speaks, and you are trying to translate about every single word she says. Luckily I had an Italian friend who was fluent in Japanese to translate most of the content taught. Though, at the end of the semester she had to leave; however, by this time I was able to understand at least half of the lesson without too much trouble.
Intro To Management
Truly the best class I have taken thus far. There were only three students in the class; however, the number of students did not matter except for more in depth conversations. We discussed the current business situation in Japan and how diversity plays an important role. Compared to Western culture, the Japanese seem more hesitant towards a direct approach. The sensei had so much passion about business and tried his best by teaching us the ways of business in all aspects of management. His biggest inspiration was Steve Jobs, someone whose leadership qualities were almost complete opposite of most companies in Japan. I found this interesting because he broke away from Japan and branched out of his comfort zone to other areas such as Thailand. The sensei taught me how diversity, while still maintaining the basic management foundation, can carry you through companies all over the world. Your key objective is understanding the issues, asking questions, listening, and assess the situation with both a clear mind and iron fist.
That is all for this post update, but now school is over so hopefully I can explore of Japan before the start of next semester. Until next time!