Lindsay Pringle, a senior from Central Michigan University and a student on the 2016 fall semester Language & Culture program, spoke with us about her experiences with study abroad. In this installment, she discusses her thoughts on JCMU’s classes and offers advice for any students considering JCMU in the future.
The Japanese language classes at JCMU are very different from any class I have taken at Central Michigan University. Each day we have 3 one-hour Japanese classes. They are definitely not lecture classes where you just have to sit and listen. Classes are very interactive and the instructors expect students to come to class prepared and to understand the content of the chapter before entering the classroom. We are expected to read, write, listen, and speak in Japanese, as using English is forbidden. You always have to be on your toes prepared to answer the next question. The structure of Japanese classes as well as being immersed in a Japanese speaking community really motivates you to do your best and take learning the language seriously.
Students are given the option to take a course at Shiga University with other Japanese students or at JCMU. I am taking the Model Japan class at JCMU. The course covers a lot of political topics and current issues affecting Japan. We recently did group presentations on each of the regions of Japan as well. It was a great opportunity to learn about the history, different dialects, cuisine, and tourist destinations in Japan. After researching Shikoku, I discovered I would really like to visit there to see the art islands in Kagawa prefecture and the Iya valley bridges made of vines.
Since I am just a beginner at Japanese I chose to live in the dorms rather than stay with a host family (though that option was available). Some of the pros and cons of staying in the dorms are:
- It is right next to JCMU, which makes it easy to participate in Wednesday night activities, or meet with your sensei whenever you need help
- There is always someone around to practice Japanese with
- There is a workout facility if you enjoy lifting weights like me
- There is a computer room where you can do research and TV room where you can hang out and play video games
- A lot of us get together and watch anime on Friday nights
- The rooms are getting kind of dated but are still fairly nice
- The wifi is slow at times
One piece of advice I would like to give to people who do not think they can afford to study abroad in general is to apply to scholarships. I put a lot of time into scholarship essays before I came here thinking I probably would not receive any, but ended up receiving each one I applied for. There are people out there who want to help you so don’t take it for granted.
As for other students considering studying at JCMU, if you expect to place in level one, I recommend purchasing the Genki I textbook and trying to at least learn some of the vocab before coming. I have to study around 5-8 hours a day to keep up in class since most of the students have studied the material before. If you are serious about learning Japanese, then JCMU is a great program and you will learn the language very quickly. Also, try to participate in everything the program has to offer. It will make your time here all the more valuable and help you meet new friends.
I am very grateful to have the opportunity to study here and have had many adventures here that I will never forget. Studying abroad has forced me to think outside of the box and learn to adapt to being out of my comfort zone at all times. Even after accomplishing my dream of coming to Japan I am still motivated to keep working hard to find a way to return. It is a tremendously beautiful place.
We would like to thank Lindsay for talking to us about her experiences in Japan, and we hope that her story resonates with many others considering JCMU. If you would like more information about the program she is participating on, then visit the JCMU Semester Language & Culture program page.