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Report From Nagasaki

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Studying Japanese Language and Culture

Zach Lunderberg  
Zach Lunderberg at the Nagasaki University of Foreign Studies  
City of Fukuoka  
Mount Inasa  
Mount Inasa (a few hours from Nagasaki)  
Food vendors at the school "Cultural Festival"  

Zach Lunderberg, a junior writing studies/philosophy double major, is studying in Japan this school year through the University Studies Abroad Consortium. He is attending Nagasaki University of Foreign Studies in Nagasaki. "The program doesn't fit into my major exactly," Lunderberg said. "But it does provide general credits that I need, as well as cultural and language experience that I believe I'll find useful later in life."

From visiting Obama, a town known for the longest footbath ("mini-hot spring for the feet") to eating squid ("an interesting mix of chewy and squishy, but very delicious"), Lunderberg is finding the trip to be delightful and interesting. He has been to Fukuoka (a fairly large city to the north of Nagasaki) and Unzen (a mountainous hot-spring town several hours east of Nagasaki). "I've been all around Nagasaki itself," he said. "It's a large city with a lot to see."

The school is small. There are a few hundred students and no more than a hundred campus employees. "It feels like a high school," Lunderberg said. "It is comfortable in its own way. There are students here from all over the world: Korea, China, the U.S., Canada, the U.K., France, and others."

He is living in a private home and has many observations about the differences between U.S. and Japanese homes. "Japanese houses are nice; smaller than American homes, but not by much. The house I'm in lacks central heating and air conditioning. Plenty of fans and window air-conditioners, as well as space heaters, sweaters and blankets. Here I have encountered the most comfortable blanket I've ever seen. They also have button-activated water heaters for showers; you press a button on the wall to turn on the hot water, take your shower, and then turn it off. It also allows you to set how hot you want the warm water to be, rather than messing with knobs."

Lunderberg had several observations about the differences in culture. "Japanese culture is incredibly subtle, something you must be careful to respect in conversation," he said. "There are certain polite forms that are taboo not to follow. Saying a polite 'good morning,' for example, is so ingrained on Japanese life that omitting it when you first meet someone in the day is considered very rude. Regardless of your personal relationship, if you see someone you recognize, or think you MAY recognize, you pretty much say 'good morning' automatically."

In October, Lunderberg's school held a "cultural festival" on campus. "It was entirely student run; it was set up to bring in visitors from the community to attend concerts, shows, and other activities put on by campus groups," he said. The food vendors sold fish and chips, lamb skewers, deep fried chicken, pork soup, curry, cotton candy, and chili dogs. "At the festival I participated in a few events," he said. "Three of us took third place in a bocce ball tournament set up on the school soccer field. There were over 16 teams. The French professor conducted the tournament, and there were Chinese, American, British, Korean, and other students playing."

Lunderberg said his firsthand encounter with the Japanese language and interaction with many different cultures has expanded his outlook on current events. "This experience will aid me in my search for employment, considering the importance to the world economy of trade between Japan and the United States."

Written by Cheryl Reitan. November, 2012

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