Saturday, August 16 marked the end of the CIEE 2014 Summer Japanese Studies Program at Sophia University. We are proud of our students for having experienced and accomplished so much during these short four weeks. While balancing coursework with activities and excursions, we are confident that they learned a great deal not only about Japanese culture and society, but also about themselves.
In my last blog entry I wrote about our excursions to Nikko and the Studio Ghibli Museum at the beginning of the program. Since then there have been more activities and excursions, such as the daytrip to Yokohama on August 2. The first stop was Hakkeijima Sea Paradise, located at the tip of Yokohama Bay. It is one of the top aquariums in Japan and is home to the famous Aqua Stadium, where students enjoyed watching performances with dolphins and other sea animals.
Following Sea Paradise was a visit to the Cup Noodle Museum. It’s safe to say that just about every college student in the US has eaten their fair share of instant ramen, so it was interesting to learn how cup noodles were invented and how they became popular worldwide. The museum is fun and interactive; one of the main draws is the “My CUPNOODLES Factory” where you can design your own cup noodle package. After decorating your cup and choosing your flavor and toppings, you can watch your cup move down the assembly line and come out as your very own, original, and completely edible cup noodle.
We wanted to finish the program in a unique and memorable way. On the evening of August 15 we held our farewell celebration on a ‘suijobus’ River Cruise to Odaiba, a modern manmade island abound with shopping, dining, and attractions. On the boat we ate snacks, played games, and handed out prizes and gifts. The weather that evening was fantastic, and the view of the setting sun behind the expansive Tokyo cityscape was truly stunning. As we approached Odaiba we were greeted by the 377 foot tall “Big Ferris Wheel” (Daikanransha), Rainbow Bridge, and the Fuji TV Building with its spaceship-like Spherical Observation Deck. We exchanged farewells after docking near the Ferris wheel.
By the end of the program many students were saying that they felt torn about leaving. While they were looking forward to reuniting with family and friends at home, they would also miss Japan and all the friends they made here during their adventures. We were also sad to see them go, but at the same time we are excited to see how our students will apply what they learned while studying abroad to future endeavors. To all of our 2014 Summer Program participants; thank you for spending your summer with us, and good luck with your studies and careers! Ganbatte kudasai!
(Read about Amanda's experience on the program here.)