The Study Abroad Newsletter

Japan is Awesome!

Leah Wagner
Seinan Gakuin University, Japan

Japan is awesome. Studying abroad here has shown me how broad the world is and how different places are full of amazing things. And along with amazing things, I've done so many wonderful things in Japan that I would never have dreamed of doing back at home. Three other study abroad students and I signed up to "teach English to students, like songs and sayings" to thirds graders for 2 hours for 2,000 yen. When we first tried to get there, we got lost, going to the wrong place and wrong elementary school. After being kindly escorted by a worker from the school to where we were supposed to be, we were very surprised. When we got there, there were many other people from outside the country that we teamed up with and then after being told what the plan was, we visited a 3rd grade classroom. But, we weren't informed correctly. The paper we were given at school said we were going to teach English.

But we were told to introduce ourselves, our country and ask questions about Japan to the 3rd graders, in Japanese, which was a little nerve wracking, but exciting. I've never worked with students before "professionally", and since me and my friends were split up into separate groups, I felt a little isolated. Me, and two other people from outside the country, with two japanese helpers, sat in front of the classroom, nervously. I was so worried that the kids wouldn't like me, or if I would mess up my Japanese in front of 3rd graders, who already know three times as much Kanji as I know. But, to my surprise, they were wonderful kids. They were so organized to their schedule, for example, there were little kid announcers of what we were going to do, organizing desks to play an opening song and closing song for us, and they would be quiet so immediately when the teacher said so. They were so excitable.

I talked about Spam Musubi, which they never heard of before, and food from America like Cheeseburgers, and Pizza. They loved it. Then, there was a question section, where we had to make up a question to ask the kids about Japan. I was so nervous, because I had no clue what I should ask them. And I was second in line, so my turn was coming up fast. In America, Pokemon are a little old dated and out of fashion for people older than 6 it seems, it's not such a worldwide craze for people of all ages anymore.

But in Japan, it's everywhere. So, I thought it was a safe bet to ask them about it. As soon as I asked, do you all like pokemon, they all squealed, and scrambled for their miscellaneous Pokemon items, like pencil cases, kanji practice book, bento box, etc. We talked about favorite Pokemon, and I got a little lost because I forgot the names of Pokemon are different then in America. But it was all fun, and sat down happily after that. Then, it was game time. They all got out different kinds of games, like string you webbed with your hands, beanbags, a gem game, and others. We moved from table to table after only a couple of minutes, but it was so much fun to interact with them all, even though it was a little awkward at first. One of the groups, with a sweet girl, gave me gems for this game that I've never played before. They were so outgoing, and played, while I learned from them.