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North America

Voices from Hosts in Japan: KAKEHASHI Project/University Students 1st Batch (Columbia University)

"Balance between being ‘young’ and being a ‘student’"
 (Student, Waseda University)

I was impressed by the intellectual curiosity and keen awareness shown by the students of Columbia University. In a trial lesson, they, of course, asked the professor a lot of questions one after another. Through the windows of the moving bus, they compared the streets of Tokyo with those of New York, thinking and talking about the city’s structure and ethnic makeup. Moreover, they watched people in Harajuku fashion in person, and enjoyed taking photo booth pictures; on the other hand, they saw homeless people underneath the elevated railway tracks and sharply indicated delays in the policy-making process. They were enjoying their experience in Japan very energetically, and at the same time they were always aware of being a student, wondering if there was something to learn. I found their attitudes very impressive and also keenly felt we should learn from their attitudes.

"Exchange by which we were able to build strong ties with each other"
 (Student, Waseda University)

It was very impressive that the students of Columbia University looked at things with curious eyes. They asked questions one after another, including “What’s the difference between the universities of Japan and the U.S.?”, “What do you think about the right of collective self-defense?”, “Where is a delicious ramen shop?” I felt they were very keen to find out more about Japan, and very eager to experience the Japanese culture. This exchange program was such a great opportunity for us students. I am grateful that I was able to participate in this program.

"The experience helped broaden the range of my values and views"
 (Student, Doshisha University)

When I showed the student(s) from Columbia University around the campus, there were times we compared the campus facilities and history of our universities. By becoming aware of the differences, such as the number of chapels and means for getting around the campuses, we were able to understand the cultural differences between Japan and the United States, as we walked together. Our conversation continued on endlessly also to how we spend student life, career after graduation, going on to graduate school, etc. This time’s experience enabled me to broaden the range of my values and views. I hope to participate in similar international exchanges also in the future and link the experience to developing myself.

"An opportunity to learn about the cultural differences between Japan and the United States and rethink about my country"
 (Student, Doshisha University)

In the discussions on “fashion” held during the exchange programme, we examined the difference between the two countries in the clothes worn for different occasions, such as uniforms, formal attire and casual wear, and the different cultural backgrounds behind these differences. Since New York and Kyoto are both distinctively unique cities in their respective countries, I had many findings from the discussions, and was able to rediscover many things about the cultures of my own country.

"Realized the importance of having one’s own opinion"
 (Student, Doshisha University)

The discussion this time was held on “transportation.” We made a list of the advantages and disadvantages of the means of transportation in both countries, and exchanged ideas on the ideal transportation environment for living. The discussions made me re-realize the cultural differences between Japan and the United States, and aroused my interest toward understanding different cultures and studying abroad. Through the exchange, I learned the importance of having my own opinion on any issues. I am thankful for the precious lesson.