I would like to write here about activities and results during short-term studying abroad. We did mainly three activities, presentation and its preparation with focus group, some lectures which was held by the local professors and discussions with dialogue class to deepen our understanding of the lectures, and fieldwork with PA and CI and activities in free day to learn the American cultures in person.
My focus group’s theme was “cultural difference of service industry between Japan and the USA”, and we prepare for the presentation by many times discussions and visiting the local restaurants such as Starbucks in order to feel the difference of customer service in person. Looking back on it now, it was a good experience that we cut down on our sleep to prepare for the presentation.
Every lecture was very useful to know about the American culture, so they were interesting for me. Sometimes, I couldn’t quite catch what they said, but I could understand the lectures on the whole by making use of the knowledge of world history which I had studied for entrance exams. After the lectures, we had a question and answer session in dialogue class and you reviewed the lectures thoroughly, so I could deepen my understanding of the lectures. However, in my class, there are the girls who have high- English skills, so I hesitated and was bitterly disappointing not to able to speak well in front of them. However, I am sure that it was one of precious experiences to find that there are many people around me who have much higher-English skills though they are Japanese and this fact makes me raise my motivation to improve my English skills.
Also, we could not only know the American culture as the knowledge but also feel it in person through the activities in free day and events with PA and CI, and I am sure this is one of the biggest benefits in this program! For example, soon after we learned “Race Relations in the US”, we went Slave trail in Richmond and I slightly understood the negative emotions of slaves (such as their fear, despair, and grief) by walking the same way which slaves had walked at that time. In addition, soon after we learned “American Music”, Jazz concert and Dance party was hold and I experienced the part of American music culture. In free day, I could also find the various differences between Japan and the US by traveling around the Washington D.C. and interacting with the local people (ex. until I visited the US, I had the stereotype which racial discrimination is still left in the American south such as Virginia. That is because the American south had approved the slavery until they lost the Civil war. However, many local people greet me with a smile and speak to me friendly on the street, even if I am not white people.) Both Tokyo and Washington D.C. are the capital cities in each country, but the atomoapere, the public peace, and population density between Tokyo and Washington D.C. are very different: Tokyo is more densely populated city than Washington D.C., but the number of homeless in Tokyo is much smaller than that in Washington, D.C. Unlike Tokyo, the Washington D.C. is usually unsafe and is not the most prosperous city in the USA. Also, the way of the customer service towards the passengers are very different: unlike the station staff in Japan, that in the US don’t watch whether every passengers get in the train, so the door shut heartlessly even if passengers are halfway through getting in the train.
It was difficult for me to speak English in public place (ex. Dialogue Class), but I enjoyed talking with the local students actively. I feel that the reluctance to speaking English has been significantly reduced through this program. In addition, through this program, I could deepen my understanding of different cultures and acquire the courage to speak English without fearing failure and the motivation towards improving my English skills, and also made precious memories and friends. I hope to see everyone again.