Students Study Popular Culture During ‘Maymester’ in Tokyo

Jun 09th, 2016

Students Study Popular Culture During ‘Maymester’ in Tokyo

HIGH POINT, N.C., June 8, 2016 – High Point University students recently added the Japanese phrase, “Ganbatte,” which is commonly used to mean, “do your best,” to their vocabularies while studying abroad in Japan. These students also added to their knowledge about Japanese culture and its impact on the United States through the “Maymester” course “Ganbatte! Adventuring in Tokyo.”

The trip took 25 students on an exploration of Japanese media and popular culture. Dr. Stefan Hall, associate professor and chair of the Department of Media Production and Studies, and Dr. Shannon Campbell, associate professor and chair of the Department of Strategic Communication and Journalism, led students on excursions to Akihabara Electric Town, the Harajuku fashion district, Tokyo Disneyland and more.

The goal of the trip was to provide context for the elements in art, media and popular culture in American society that have been influenced by Japanese culture.

“We wanted students to understand that common pop culture in America often draws inspiration from countries around the globe,” Hall says. “In Japan, we were given the unique opportunity to appreciate one culture’s rich background, as well as understand its impact on our own.”

The students were given the chance to visit sites like The National Museum of Contemporary Art and the Edo-Tokyo Museum to gain insight into the rich, artistic culture of Japan.

Many students felt the trip helped them develop a deeper appreciation for Japanese cultural influence.

“Japan was a dream come true for me,” says rising senior Marisa Poolos. “My grandmother is Japanese, so I’ve always wanted to visit Tokyo and experience the culture. It definitely opened my mind and showed me just how different other countries can be. Japanese culture says you are supposed to think about others and try to blend in. It’s not really about covering up who you are, but about helping the whole community work efficiently.”

HPU offers a variety of “Maymester” courses as part of its Global Experience program. These short-term study abroad trips led by HPU faculty help students learn more about the world around them by providing opportunities to travel in the U.S. and abroad, connecting learning with real-world experience.

This year, students and faculty participating in HPU’s “Maymester” courses traveled to four continents, including locations such as Australia, Costa Rica, Germany, Japan, Spain and the United Kingdom.