Photo courtesy of Luisa Avila-Tzorin

New LC study abroad program visits Japan

In spring 2019, the first group of Lewis & Clark students traveled to Fukuoka, Japan on a new LC study abroad program. The program is in partnership with Seinan Gakuin University, where students spend one semester studying Japanese language and taking elective courses that are taught in English.  

There are already three other LC study abroad programs that go to Japan, yet the college wanted to create a new Japanese program that offers a more well-balanced experience to students. 

“(The Overseas and Off-Campus Office) and the Japanese department was looking for a program that wasn’t quite so intensive with the language because we have the Osaka program which is very intensive, and we also have the Sapporo program which is in a location that isn’t super central, and then we have the Waseda program which is a full year,” Programs Coordinator Kaitlin Sommerfeld said. “So there was a need to find a program that was in a more central location, that was wasn’t quite so rigorous with language (and) that could be for only one semester.”

The Seinan program also gives students the opportunity to take elective courses and learn more about Japan. 

“(Seinan has) a lot of elective courses,” Instructor in Japanese and Japanese Section Head and Coordinator of Language Program Atsuko Kurogi said. “At LC, we do have a Japanese minor, but we don’t have that many Japan-related courses. The college wanted to provide more diverse elective courses for students who are interested in Japan and Japanese language.” 

Linus Jakobson ’20, who went on the Seinan program in the spring of 2019, took a variety of elective courses alongside the two required Japanese language courses. 

“At Seinan you’re required to take two classes, those being Japanese grammar and vocabulary, (and) then there’s another class solely dedicated to Chinese characters, or Kanji,” Jakobson said. “I ended up taking a class about the education system in Japan, an additional Japanese grammar course, a class about anime and manga and how you can view Japanese society through that, and another one about how you can view Japanese communication through (anime and manga). I (also) took one about the constitution of Japan and then one about intercultural communication.” 

As part of the first group of LC students to attend Seinan, Jakobson experienced both positive and negative aspects of the program. One major issue that the first group of students faced was problems with their housing arrangements. 

“Initially all the LC students got housing in this one … apartment for college students, but not just Seinan (students),” Jakobson said. “It was like 30 minutes away from campus by train.”

Jakobson was able to move into a dorm on campus later during the semester. 

“I ended up moving in early April,” Jakobson said. “I had two months in the I-House, which is the International House. That’s where the majority of exchange students stay.”

For LC students who want to attend Seinan, Jakobson recommends living in the I-House. 

“You want to be in the I-House, it allows more exposure to social situations and general activities,” Jakobson said. “It’s the ideal situation.”  

The Overseas and Off-Campus Office is working to improve the housing situation for LC students at Seinan. 

“This semester, our students are still in off-campus apartments, although our ultimate goal is to get our students into I-House or Dormy (Fukuoka), some of the on-campus housing,” Sommerfeld said. “But it sounds like this semester the apartments have been better, they’re a lot closer to campus.”

Despite the housing problem, Jakobson enjoyed being in the city of Fukuoka as it felt more manageable than a city like Tokyo, which can feel overwhelming. 

“Fukuoka is the best city in Japan,” Jakobson said. “It’s got great food, it’s in a really good location if you want to do traveling. It’s a manageable city.” 

Jakobson also enjoyed the elective courses he took at Seinan. 

“I really enjoyed some of my classes,” Jakobson said. “For example the education system in Japan (course) was really interesting.” 

Jakobson would recommend the Seinan program to students who are looking for a program that is not as language-intensive and is more relaxed in terms of coursework. 

“If you don’t want that intensity that the Osaka program is offering and you want to be able to have a good time in Japan … then I’d say Seinan Gakuin is the right option,” Jakobson said.

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