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editorials>>Japan Overview 2001 (written 12/2000)

The program I am participating in is offered through Lansing College (in Michigan). Lansing and Michigan State University have been sending students to Japan for over twenty years as part of a sister city goodwill program (Otsu is the sister city of Lansing, MI. - the capital of Michigan). While there I'll be living, working and studying in Japan for ten months. I will have my own two-person apartment in Otsu city, Shiga prefecture, which is located on the shore of Lake Biwa (central Japan, Honshuu), the largest lake in Japan.

I will start the program here in Michigan on January 15 by taking introductory classes on Japan and Japanese culture at Lansing college. Leaving for Japan on February 28, I will finish the semester in Japan at Shiga Daigaku (college), Otsu campus. I will end up taking around 38 credits by the end of the program, all the classes will be related to Japan in some way. I hope to get a degree in Asian Studies (as well as Fine Art [Computer Graphics], with a minor in Computer Science) and to become fluent in Japanese to work for a multi-national corporation such as Sony, Panasonic or Nintendo in the future.

Not only will I be attending classes in Japan, but I will be working on a replica Mississippi steamship french/american restaurant as a waiter-type person. Everyone who has gone on the program has done this, and all of the details are worked out prior to departure for Japan. It turns out that you work a few days a week, and go to class a few days, then have about two days off. You also get school vacations and vacation days off work, not to mention trips to sites around Japan with the other class members. I am planning to use any free time to check out Japan and to travel around a bit. We receive around $1000US+ per month for food and spending on buyable-stuff (not taxed in any way, rent and utilities are included in the program). This is sure to not last long in a country where an apple costs about $5US and there are the ever popular $100US melons. I am definitely planning on supplementing my income with money saved from home, as well as credit cards.

This is the twentieth anniversary year of the program, and is a special occasion. There are going to be many events supported by the steamship company (Biwako Kisen) which sponsors the Japan Adventure program along with Lansing and Shiga college. I plan to have fun, and of course, learn more about Japan.

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