As students on Temple University’s Main Campus groggily roll over and reach for their alarm clocks, wondering why they decided on that 8:40 in the first place, Temple students halfway around the world are winding down their day and perhaps preparing for a fun-filled night of karaoke.
Situated in Minami Azabu, Tokyo, Temple University Japan (TUJ) is home to 1600 Temple students, 70 percent of which are Japanese enrolled in an Intensive English Language study.
TUJ also offers American students the chance to study Japanese and Asian culture abroad.
Jason Young, a Temple senior and political science major, chose to use this semester to study in Japan.
Having lived on Main Campus for the past three years, Young decided he needed a major change of scenery.
“Japan is a foreign place, in the best sense of the word; somewhere unfamiliar.
Moreover, this is a place with tremendous history, and a relationship with the United States and the rest of the world that warrants study,” Young said.
Upon arriving in Tokyo late this August, Young was immediately struck with the sheer size of the city.
“There is more to do and see within the city limits of Tokyo than a person could get to, without sleep, in a month or years.
This is something that occurred to me on one of my first nights in the city, while looking out at the sun setting over the city, beyond Mount Fuji, from a 38-story building.
It (Tokyo) seems to dwarf New York, Paris, Amsterdam, Athens, and London. I wasn’t ready for that experience.
I was shocked at the vastness of the city,” Young said.
According to Young, this huge city is filled with things to entertain college students, such as trips to see sumo wrestling, opportunities to climb Mount Fuji, outings to Japanese baseball games, and, of course, karaoke.
While in Japan, Young is studying economics, comparative politics, Japanese culture, Japanese religion, Metropolitan Tokyo, and independently studying the language, a task he began this summer at Bryn Mawr College, an experience Young referred to as a “tremendous opportunity.”
“I’ve been surprised, however, after five hours per day, and eight weeks at Bryn Mawr, I felt I had little more than a very basic, albeit solid, foundation of Japanese language proficiency, on which to build,” Young said.
However, he mentioned that being immersed in Japanese culture is helping everyone to pick up the language rather quickly.
In addition to the vast language difference, Young said that, despite the fact that he is being taught by American Temple professors, the character of the study abroad students and the presence of so many Japanese students give TUJ a “new feeling.”
“It’s entirely different culture, which means that the behavioral dynamic, social norms, and much of daily life outside the University is a bit different,” said Young.
He continued, saying that life inside TUJ was still, simply “meeting people, finding places to eat, drink, dance, and party, meet boys, meet girls, go to classes, do homework and watch movies and TV.
In that sense, it is very much university life as usual.”
Despite the many cultural differences that Young encountered after just several weeks at TUJ, he had only positive things to say about his experience so far.
“I’m told that the first stage of reaction of a “gaijin” (foreigner) in Tokyo is bliss.
I think that I will have no problem sustaining this state for the duration of my four month stay.”
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Alix Gerz can be reached at Temple_News@hotmail.com