Sunday, October 26, 2008

Nagasaki University of Foreign Studies

I probably should have posted this a long time ago, but now is good enough. I’m packing a couple weeks of info into one post, so forgive me for changing topic in the middle of a paragraph.

Registering for classes in Nagasaki is way different than the American system. You don’t actually register for class until a week or two until after classes have actually started. The catch is, however, that in order to be able to register for a class, you must attend it on the first day. This setup gives students the freedom to sit in on whatever classes they want and get an idea of a professor’s teaching style and requirements beforehand. Although the university states the first day attendance thing is a requirement, it’s actually quite laid back. I’ve seen people show up for the first time in the middle of the second week, and the Japanese professors seem to not mind. Or, rather, they just don’t say anything. Some of the Western professors that teach here do not like it at all because they have no idea how many students they will actually have for the semester.

College here has a lot of similarities to high school in America. For example, classes are organized into periods; there are five periods a day. There is a break after second period where there are no classes held at all (for lunch). There is a ten minute break between periods, and the end/beginning of classes is signified by a bell (actually a song). There are many clubs here, and they are run (and funded) entirely by the students, independently of the school. Clubs are really laid back. There is no membership requirement or anything; people are free to just show up as they please. Clubs make money by participating in the university festival, having a food stand, or doing a performance, or something. The festival for my school is coming up this next weekend, and it is open to the community. Hundreds of people come to the school festival each day it is held (or so I hear), and they tend to be quite profitable.

Nagasaki GaiDai (as it is called, for short) has tennis courts, a gymnasium, a cafeteria, music rooms, an auditorium, and some grounds to play soccer on. In Nagasaki it rains a lot, so sand is used to prevent the school grounds from getting all muddy, particularly for sports.

The school I am attending is actually a Christian college, although maybe not in the sense that American universities are. There is no requirement to take religious studies or attend chapels, and I’m not sure what classes are offered to Japanese students. However, the entrance ceremony began with a hymn and prayer, entirely in Japanese, of course. Nagasaki is still the most Christian area in Japan; there are churches here and there, and I see nuns riding the busses every once in awhile. The entrance ceremony is an important tradition for Japanese education. Students dress up in black and white and get a congratulatory message from the university president. Our entrance ceremony was followed by an hour long presentation from the Nagasaki police department on safety and law. It was translated into English and Chinese by a couple of the university professors. I am a JASIN student, of which there are 20 some total. It is for Western students only; most are from America, but there are some French and British as well. There is another study abroad program here for non-Japanese Asian students (called the NICS program), of which there are over 80.

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