Students get glimpse of Japan during study abroad trip

July 16, 2019

Four Trine University students got a taste of life in Japan during an annual short-term study abroad opportunity in June.

The 2019 Hakuoh International Study Program at Hakuoh University in Tochigi Prefecture, Japan, brought the Trine students plus four from the University of Hawaii to the country from June 5-14.

Students participated in Japanese language, culture and calligraphy classes, a shopping trip to practice ordering skills in the Japanese language, events with Hakuoh University students, a trip to the Tochigi Prefectural Hall (similar to Indiana’s State Department), sightseeing in Nikko, a World Heritage Site, as well as in Utsunomiya and Tokyo, and a traditional tea ceremony.

They also spent two of their 10 days with host families to see what normal life in Japan is like.

Allison Curdes, a junior from Angola majoring in criminal justice, said the temples and shrines were beautiful, and she also enjoyed Tokyo.

“Getting there using the bullet train was so cool,” she said.

Kayla Miller, a senior chemical engineering major from Logansport, Indiana, was impressed with how clean the city is.

“The bullet train and subways were so clean, and so were the streets,” she said. “Dining on shabu-shabu made the experience even better.”

Miller also enjoyed visiting the Ashikaga Flower Park with her host family, and sites such as Nikko.

“Even on a dreary, rainy day, I felt a strange sense of peace and belonging I hadn’t in a long time,” she said. “I was amazed by the brilliant detail of the temples and buildings.”

Chloe Brittain, a sophomore health sciences/pre-DPT major from Wheeler, Michigan, said the community at Hakuoh University was very gracious.

“The sensei (teachers) at the university were very patient with us,” she said. “The international staff wanted to make sure we felt welcome and were comfortable, and (our professor) taught us as much Japanese as she could in her limited class time. The students were amazing at translating for us, such as menus or signs. They also made us feel very welcome and wanted to spend as much time with us as possible teaching us how to live like young adults in Japan.”

Brittain and Curdes both said daily life in Japan is not much different than the United States.

“They eat foods that are readily available for the area,” Brittain said. “Japanese people are really nice and very hospitable.”

“I learned that family values (in Japan) are very similar to my own family’s way of life,” said Curdes.

Alexander Reese, a senior civil engineering major from Marietta, Georgia, also participated in the trip.

“It is amazing to see what students take away from their experience when studying abroad,” said Mari McHenry, director of international community services, who went with the students on the trip. “Traveling to another country can truly change your perspective on how you see the world, and perhaps even your future. Although all four students are studying in different majors, each one had a good experience building new relationships and learning about the Japanese culture. They were able to expand their knowledge, expertise and curiosity about other nations.”

During the trip, Jenson Jiang, associate director of global partnerships, joined McHenry to help finalize Trine’s partnership with Teikyo University in Utsunomiya. Students from Teikyo University will visit Trine short-term in August, and selected Trine students will have the opportunity to study abroad at Teikyo University.

Trine students who participate in the program will conduct engineering research with graduate students while learning Japanese language and culture. The program will be considered a Research Experience for Undergraduates for Trine students, who can earn up to six credit hours while studying in Japan over the summer for two months.

Students who are interested in the Teikyo experience or the Hakuoh International Study Program can contact McHenry for more information.

  • Nikko Toshogu

    Nikko Toshogu - The Trine University study abroad group at Nikko Toshogu: from left, Mari McHenry, Alexander Reese, Allison Curdes, Chloe Brittain and Kayla Miller.

  • Fist bump

    Fist bump - Yuji Yamane, president of the Japanese tea ceremony organization, shares a fist bump with Alexander Reese after the Trine University group participated in the ceremony. In back, from left, are Allison Curdes, Chloe Brittain, Mari McHenry and Kayla Miller. Jenson Jiang is at front right.

  • Tea ceremony

    Tea ceremony - Members of the Trine University study abroad group, the University of Hawaii and Hakuoh University participated in a tea ceremony.

  • Harajuku

    Harajuku - Members of the Trine University study abroad group, the University of Hawaii and Hakuoh University visited Harajuku, Tokya, known for Japanese pop culture.

  • Teikyo University

    Teikyo University - An agreement between Trine University and Teikyo University in Utsunomiya was finalized while the study abroad group was in Japan. Standing, from left, are Kiyoshi Kawamoto, campus director, Tsutomu Haeno, dean of the school of engineering, Takashi Hiramoto, professor of helicopter engineering, Kazutoshi Mori, chair of mechanical engineering, Akira Kamata, student advisor, and Masayuki Arai, chair of electrical engineering. Seated are Mari McHenry, director of international community services for Trine University, and Jenson Jiang, associate director of global partnerships at trine.

  • Asakusa

    Asakusa - Members of the Trine University study abroad group, the University of Hawaii and Hakuoh University visited Asakusa, Tokyo, site of the Sensoji Buddhist Temple.

  • Tochigi Prefectural Hall

    Tochigi Prefectural Hall - Officials at the Tochigi Prefectural Hall with Trine University participants in the Hakuoh International Study Program. Standing, from left, Masashi Fukuda, associate director of the International Affairs Division, Akihiro Inaba, former sectional director of the International Affairs Division, Kayla Miller, Alexander Reese, Jenson Jiang, and Junichi Kouzaki, director of the International Affairs Division. Kneeling are Chloe Brittain, Allison Curdes and Mari McHenry.

  • Asakusa

    Asakusa - Members of the Trine University group that participated in the Hakuoh International Study Program pose in Asakusa. Front, from left, Kayla Miller, Chloe Brittain, Allison Curdes and Jenson Jiang. Alexander Reese is in back.

  • Asakusa

    Asakusa - Members of the Trine University study abroad group, the University of Hawaii and Hakuoh University visited Asakusa, Tokyo.

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