Ikebukuro, Japan is a district of Tokyo teeming with youth, spirit and culture and if you attend school there, according to Gerald Mattia, a senior Asian studies major, it is like living life in an anime.
Ikebukuro is a neighborhood with countless places for entertainment and with shopping centers, arcades and even places like the Pokémon Center, there is hardly a lack of amusement.
This past summer, Seton Hall students a year there living and studying as a part of the student exchange program in Japan. October marks International Celebration month at Seton Hall, which highlights multiculturalism across campus. Participants of the exchange program shared their experiences studying at Sophia University in Japan.
DeMattia said that Dr. Osuka, associate professor of Asian studies and group leader of their time during Japan, was a vital part of the experience.
“Dr. Osuka really eases you into the experience,” DeMattia said. “You don’t have to have any anxieties, and Ikebukuro is a fun place to live. Everything you need is right there.”
Osuka said students gained the ability to “open up their mind and world view” following the trip. Though four different students presented their individual experiences, the common denominator between all of them was the great food and amazing scenery.
Trevor West, a junior diplomacy and modern languages double major, spoke of the modern landmarks of Japan as well as the traditional ones.
“We visited the scramble crossing, which is really crazy because you have people coming from all different directions,” West said. Another reoccurring theme of the experience in Japan was packed trains.
“Compared to New York City, which can be crowded, Tokyo can be really crowded, especially the trains,” West said. Each student had at least one story about the crammed trains back and forth to school.
Timothy Talbot, a senior social and behavioral science major, talked about this experience most vividly.
“It didn’t look like it was that crowded, and then more and more people started coming on — and all I remember is when the doors closed, my face being pressed up against the glass,” Talbot said.
The Asian Studies Department offers a unique experience to not only study, but teach in Japan as well. Ruby Kahane, Seton Hall ‘12, spent four years teaching as a part of the AEON program in Japan.
When Kahane visited the country during her study abroad program as a student, she decided she would not mind teaching there and spoke of the different experiences she had.
“Things like punctuality in Japanese business culture is different,” Kahane said. “If you’re on time, you’re late.” She said that while Japanese students can get away with this, it doesn’t apply in business culture.
For any student who has never travelled outside the country, but is thinking about studying abroad, the experienced students suggest to just go for it.
Megan Beauchamp can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.