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明治大学TOP > 政治経済学部Information
掲載日:2008/07/24
ノースイースタン大学「日本滞在体験記」を公開
SELECTIONS FROM THE “REFLECTIONS” PAPERS WRITTEN BY STUDENTS IN THE SUMMER I 2008 DIALOGUE TO JAPAN

 ここに集められたのは、2008年5月8日から6月4日までの28日間、政治経済学部に滞在し連続講義を受けた、アメリカ、ボストンNortheastern University 学生による「日本滞在体験記」の抜粋である。
 ノースイースタン大学の学生は、政治経済学部教員の英語による授業を15回にわたって受講しただけでなく、山中セミナーハウスでは、政治経済学部の学生20名と3日間にわたって、@政治改革、A年金制度、B社会福祉、C教育制度、D労働慣行などのテーマをめぐって真剣な討論を展開した。その後の「日本式呑み会」の中での、就職・恋愛談義などは、「日本人のこれまでのイメージを一変させた」という。
 ある学生の感想にあるように、「日本人の学生も自分たちとそんなに違わない若者」であることを悟ったようだ。週末の「飲み会」、スポーツ観戦などを通じて、ノースイースタンの学生も、政治経済学部の学生も、自分たちの「既成概念」を打ち壊したようだ。
 相当な心配を抱えて極東の地に到着したノースイースタンの学生たちは、今や明治大学政治経済学部コミュニティーの一員となってしまった。ノースイースタン大学の海外との共同プログラムの中でも、これまでにない濃密な交流が実現したプログラムであった。当然、日本側の学生にとっても・・・・・。

Don’t want to end this trip...
Nothing I write can compare to my experience in Japan. Writing everything down on paper will only help me remember the trip for years to come. However, at the same time it officially means that the experience has come to an end. While I’m glad to be home, I did not want the trip to end. Reflecting on this experience seems rather daunting and anti-climatic. However, the end-product will help me remember all the things that I wish never ended.


I would go back to Japan, if...
If given the chance, I would go back to Japan in a heartbeat. In reality thought, I may never return to Jimbo-cho, Meiji University, Kyoto, or Lake Yamanaka. It is too far and too expensive for me to make a trip in the foreseeable future. My friends on the other side of the world are likely to be in the same boat. I may never meet Sitoka, Leo, or any of the other students from Meiji again. Our friendship will endure though, if not through the internet, then through sheer determination alone. I did not buy myself a souvenir while in Japan, so I must rely instead on the strength of my memories and the power of those friendships that I made during our short 28 days. On the group’s first night in Tokyo, Brian commented to me that he felt as though we were not yet in a foreign country. I agreed with him, and tried to figure out why it was different from other countries I had visited. I do not think it was the modern streets and shops that made him feel at home, but rather how inviting and how warmly Japan presented itself to us. Few people are so fortunate to have such a wonderful trip abroad, and fewer still can claim so many experiences in so short a time. Arigato Gozaimasu!


The greatest experiences of my life.
I can safely say that my trip to Japan was the greatest experience of my life. I met amazing people, I spent every waking moment with them, I was immersed in an entirely foreign culture that completely fascinated me, I was lost many times, I found my way many times, I was excited, and everything that I could have asked for happened on this trip. Looking back on the trip I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to have participated in such an amazing program. Everyone on this trip was truly lucky to have the professors and support staff that we did, who made this trip worthwhile.


I simply tell them that it’s just absolutely incredible!
This trip to Japan has exceeded all of my expectations and not only allowed me to excel academically, but also allowed me to have a priceless cultural experience as well. I am glad that I had the opportunity to integrate myself into a different atmosphere because it created such a unique learning experience for me. So now when people ask me what I think of Japan, I simply tell them that it’s just absolutely incredible!


I honestly came to love the Japanese people and culture and found myself completely connected to the country by the time I left.
Before leaving for Japan I was very nervous about going. I was afraid I wouldn’t make any friends, I would be lonely for home, and most of all that I wouldn’t enjoy the country. My original thoughts on Japan had been that the country would be full of people obsessed with anime and people who spent all their time studying. I could not have been more wrong. I honestly came to love the Japanese people and culture and found myself completely connected to the country by the time I left. It was everyday life in Japan that I enjoyed the most, the small pastry breakfast, the walk to class through the bustling Jimbocho district, the lunches at the small noodle shops, the afternoons exploring the vastly different and amazing neighborhoods, and the evenings spent in the Japanese style bars. As I have told many people since leaving Japan I felt that I had a genuine understanding of Japanese life and culture and that was the greatest thing I could have gotten from the trip.


I realized it was because I had not encountered any kind of hostility or anger while in Japan
I think the kindness of the Japanese people did not fully register with me until I returned to the U.S. As soon as we landed in the Chicago O’Hare airport, I felt like I was part of a cattle herd. I felt like I was being yelled at and was very anxious throughout the entire airport. I sat down at one point and was so confused as to why I felt like this. I realized it was because I had not encountered any kind of hostility or anger while in Japan.


I have always been mislead to believe that the Japanese are mindless robots without individual goals.
Despite so many cultural differences, I connected very well with a number of the Meiji students I met. I learned that they too like to go bowling, spend time with friends, and drink (sometimes too much). I also learned that they have aspirations and goals for careers and other aspects of their lives, just like I do. I suppose in the reading I have done, I have always been mislead to believe that the Japanese are mindless robots without individual goals. I feel like I have been told numerous times that all the Japanese think about is becoming a salary man and pleasing their parents. While at times this may be the case, many young people in Japan do not want that for their future.


I’ll be an arrogant American in no time, but it’s clear to me and the people around me that Japan has affected me greatly.
It’s been over a week since my return to the states and I still find myself bowing to people in restaurants, waiting for walk signs at crosswalks and fighting a strong desire for a meal of tacoyaki and milk tea. I try washing my hands above the toilet reservoir but am consistently disappointed when nothing comes out. People look at me like I’m crazy when my speech slows and simplifies, ignoring articles, prepositions and anything I learned in grammar school. Every now and then I let loose a “sumimasen” or an “arigato” and that “he must be crazy” look returns. I try to remember that it’s only been a week, that maybe these peculiarities will end and I’ll be an arrogant American in no time, but it’s clear to me and the people around me that Japan has affected me greatly.


One of the main focuses of this trip was...
One of the main focuses of this trip, in addition to making cultural observations, was to gain an understanding of the fundamentals of Japanese government. We did this through our many lectures in conjunction with visits to sites of governmental importance on both the local and national level. I felt honored to enter the halls of the Diet and see where all policy is debated and finalized. It was interesting to note how similar Japan’s system is to ours at least on a superficial level. I think that the war had a lot to do with this since we practically handed the Japanese their constitution and said “enact this.” Somehow, though, their take on it seems to have surpassed ours at least in terms of social services. This could be most readily seen in their national pension program and locally with the many innovative services for the elderly like “bath in bus”, “tea for health” and others we learned about in more depth during our trip to Kyoto City Hall. This level of care for the people is inline with the new emerging nationalism which considers past mistakes, accepts them and moves on from them in an attempt to serve the current population instead of being hung up on the old world views.


I wanted to share stories of the incredible students that I met because I feel like they were the richest part of my experiences on this Japan Dialogue.
I wanted to share stories of the incredible students that I met because I feel like they were the richest part of my experiences on this Japan Dialogue. I went into this trip knowing that we would meet Japanese students, but assumed that we would only see them at school and at Yamanaka Lake. I did not know how helpful, hospitable, or fun they would be. I did not know how attached I would get to our amazing hosts and I never expected to cry upon leaving Japan. I thought I would want to rush home to see the people I already know and love, but instead, I found myself yearning to stay with my new friends. I reread my journal before preparing this essay and found that every day of the past month was an adventure for me. Whether it was trying desperately to grasp political science concepts as a marketing major, trying to figure out what to order on a menu written completely in Japanese, or trying to navigate the Tokyo Metro, I came out okay. I believe that the trip broadened my horizons on many levels. I have a great deal of respect for political science majors now because I know that I could never study what they do—it involves issues that seem far beyond my capabilities, despite my best efforts. I am also in awe of people who can speak multiple languages—especially Japanese—because it is incredibly difficult, yet incredibly useful. But mostly I am delighted and surprised to find out how a country on the other side of the world can so quickly become a home to me, welcoming me with its rich culture and kind citizens. I hope that Northeastern students continue to go on this dialogue. It is an experience that cannot be replaced.


All of these different places and experiences were what made this Dialogue so rewarding and really gave me an understanding of the Japanese culture, society, and people.
Before I boarded the plane, Japanese culture, the people, its traditions, and so many aspects of the society were foreign to me. While I was in Japan I was able to see so much of Tokyo, from the peaceful tranquility of Yoyogi Park, to the colossal Mori Tower of Roppongi Hills. Visiting influential sites, like the Diet and the Bank of Japan were great opportunities and I was extremely lucky, as a student of international affairs, to learn about those institutions. Visiting Kyoto was also an amazing experience, especially in contrast to Tokyo. Going to the retreat at Lake Yamanaka and spending time with the Japanese students was the most priceless part of the entire trip. Being able to sit down with students who are just like us, but also so different at the same time, was a very rewarding experience. The adventurer inside me loved being near the top of Mt. Fuji and seeing the geographic diversity that Japan has to offer. All of these different places and experiences were what made this Dialogue so rewarding and really gave me an understanding of the Japanese culture, society, and people.


…the single most rewarding experience of the trip was the retreat at Lake Yamanaka and the opportunity to meet and interact with Japanese students.
Aside from the cultural sites, lectures, and other activities I took part in while visiting Japan, the single most rewarding experience of the trip was the retreat at Lake Yamanaka and the opportunity to meet and interact with Japanese students. At first glance, they look different from us, they sometimes act differently from us, but in the end, I learned that we were all very similar. After spending a few nights with the students and talking to them, I realized that they all want to graduate from college, get a good job, have a family, and lead a life similar to one that I would envision for myself someday. Some differences I did notice were that they were more polite, reserved, and they respect each other immensely.
レセプションパーティーの様子 明治大学博物館を見学 パソコン利用講習会を受講
レセプションパーティーの様子 明治大学博物館を見学 パソコン利用講習会を受講
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