This past winter break, 14 Knox students had the opportunity to spend two weeks in Japan applying knowledge acquired in their fall courses into real life experiences in Japan.
According to the program website, students enrolled in the program are required to take at least two courses pertaining to Japanese culture and history, drawn from Modern Japan, Buddhism and Japanese Buddhism, Japanese Linguistics and Japanese Language.
Sophomore Stephanie Charvat took Modern Japan, Japanese Linguistics and Japanese 201, a class specifically for students enrolled in Japan Term.
“We mostly watched presentations in the Japan Term class to learn about what life was like in Japan, but we [also] did activities and tried some of the snacks so we wouldn’t be too stunned when we went there,” she said. “Once during the class, we went into the hallway and practiced dodging other people while walking. In Japan, you dodge to the left. In America, you dodge to the right.”
“We also had meetings every Monday of fall term from 7 to 9 p.m. where we talked about food we would eat, how to deal with the transportation system and even how to deal with Japanese bathing and toilets. All the meetings were a lot of fun and it really helped us to get to know the other members,” freshman Marta Schneider said.
“These classes and meetings helped to understand what was expected of us and how we could adjust to the cultural and societal differences,” junior Brynn Ogilvie said.
During winter term, students also have the opportunity to enroll in an additional 0.5 credit class, giving them the opportunity to complete longer research and creative projects related to their time in Japan.
Arriving in Japan on Nov. 29, the students were led by professor of history Michael Schneider, associate professor of philosophy William Young and visiting assistant professor of Asian studies Kaori Furuya. The term focused on three major cities: Tokyo, Kyoto and Hiroshima.
And the favorite hotspot of the trip? Charvat said, “I really liked the shopping in Tokyo, but I really enjoyed going to see all the temples and shrines in Kyoto. And the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, even though this was my second time visiting it, was a very powerful, heavy place to visit. The museum there is done very well and the park itself is beautiful with many tributes to the victims of the atomic bomb.”
This year was also different from past Japan Terms. This trip, the students were required to record conversations and interactions they experienced with native Japanese speakers.
“It actually wasn’t too bad. There were a lot of friendly people. I felt fairly comfortable talking to people if I needed directions or couldn’t find something,” Charvat explained.
The students also were able to try new and exotic dishes. From beef donburi, a bowl with rice with thinly sliced meat and onions on top, to udorn, a thick buckwheat noodle served in a broth with different kinds of vegetables and meat, there was never a dull plate.
“My favorite dish from Japan is カツカレー(katsu kare or tonkatsu curry). It is rice on top of which you have とんかつ(tonkatsu), a breaded and fried pork cutlet, and then Japanese curry.” Marta Schneider explained.
According to the program website, “The primary goal of Japan Term is to help students develop the skills needed for global citizenship in the 21 century…Although our focus is Japan, Japan Term offers invaluable experiences for students whose interests and expertise lie in other parts of the globe. Students planning to study abroad, whether in Japan or elsewhere, are urged to participate in Japan Term or another Knox study-travel program.”