University of Pittsburgh | GreensburgHeinz Programming Area:
Ariane Autore spent four weeks in the Kobe area of western Japan living as a college student. Her goal was to experience life as a Japanese student at the university level while gaining basic knowledge of early childhood life and family relations in Japan. She lived in a dorm that was a short, fifteen minute train ride from her campus. This helped her gain first-hand experience as a Japanese student and citizen. She was also able to learn about Japanese language and culture in an actual Japanese college through English speaking professors provided by her program. This enabled her to understand the college experience and organization for students in Japan. She was also able to learn about the hardships and aspects of growing up in Japan through communicating with the native students, and also through discussions with other western immigrants and visitors who lived and raised children in Japan. She learned that in the Japanese family the father is often absent and does not have much of a role in raising his children. Another useful experience that helped her learn about early childhood and the pressures of Japanese education was her visit to a local elementary school in Nishinomiya area. Here she saw the rigorous curriculum that is taught to students at the elementary level of education. In addition to the valuable academic experiences she was able to befriend many of the Japanese students which gave her access to cultural experience of her age group. This includes dressing up in a Yukata, the summer version of the Kimono, and visiting local establishments that were favorite spots of the students in the surrounding area. The combination of academics and entertainment gave Ariane a better understanding of Japan that she would not have been able to appreciate otherwise.