HPU Students Spend ‘Maymester’ Learning about Japanese Customs in Tokyo

HPU students who took part in the Japan Global Experience gathered at the base of Daibutsu, the second largest Buddha in Japan, after a full day touring Kamakura, one of the ancient capitals of Japan.

HPU students learned to make sushi at Tokyo Sushi Academy.

HIGH POINT, N.C., June 7, 2018 – A total of 23 High Point University students from various majors were given the opportunity to explore Japan and learn about its culture while spending two weeks in Tokyo.

The trip served as the global experience portion of the course Japanese Media and Popular Culture, taught by Dr. Stefan Hall, associate professor of communication. HPU Global Experience programs, also known as “Maymesters,” are short-term study abroad opportunities allowing HPU students to travel within the U.S. and internationally to learn about different cultures through real-world experiences.

The goal of the course was to demonstrate how America’s art, media and popular culture are relatable and influenced by Japanese culture. Several students acknowledged that the excursion opened their minds to understanding and valuing this influence.

Following a traditional Japanese lunch in Asakusa, the restaurant owner and two employees performed traditional shamisen music for the HPU students.

“We all have preconceived notions of every culture, however when you travel to another country, you will find that it’s not as simple as you thought. You have to travel to that certain country to truly know the difference,” said senior Alli Klug. “So, travel often to know the value of various cultures and break those stereotypes you may have heard.”

The group of students participated in an abundance of activities while in Japan, including walking through Shibuya Crossing, the busiest intersection of the world, enjoying Japanese cuisine, learning how to make sushi at the Tokyo Sushi Academy, taking part in a Japanese tea ceremony, attending a Japanese baseball game and observing breathtaking views at the top of the Tokyo Tower.

Students also toured numerous galleries and historical developments during their trip, including the Pokémon Center, Ghibli Museum, Akihabara Electric Town and the Museum of Science, Technology and Innovation.

Even though the Maymester was short, it gave students a full and rich experience with the country.

“After college, I lived in Japan two different times teaching English,” said Erin Moran, assistant director of admissions at HPU, who accompanied the students on the trip. “This trip was my first time back in Japan in 10 years, and we packed more into two weeks than I did my whole time previously living there. It was amazing to be able to watch and walk alongside the students as they saw and experienced things they had learned about in the classroom.”

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