Japanese students prep for classes with visit to Lakeland
Before they begin classes at Lakeland University-Japan later this month, a group of Japanese students are spending two weeks in Wisconsin for a global introduction to college life.
The group of seven students, who begin classes on August 28 at Lakeland’s Tokyo campus, arrived in Wisconsin on July 30 for two weeks at Lakeland’s main campus.
Students spend the mornings in the classroom studying English doing listening, speaking, reading and writing exercises.
Afternoons, evenings and weekends are spent doing a variety of trips and activities to experience American culture. Highlights included:
Jessica McDonald, LUJ’s director of programs & partnerships, said the visit is helping the students understand Lakeland’s global reach while delivering a unique orientation to higher education.
“Now they understand the relationship with the main campus,” McDonald said. “They know it exists, what it looks like and they could be more comfortable transferring here. It gives them a sense of excitement to see what university life feels like.”
Lakeland, which founded its Tokyo campus in 1991, is the only private, American liberal arts university in Japan and one of just two American universities in Japan, along with Temple University. LUJ offers four- and two-year degrees, and over the decades many students have studied abroad at Lakeland’s Wisconsin campus as part of their degree program.
Students said they enjoyed the visit, especially interacting with Lakeland students who are living on campus for the summer.
“Japan is smaller and not many people speak English,” said Hina Kato. “We don’t get a lot of experience to speak with people from different countries. Lakeland students are from many countries. That’s why I want to be a Lakeland student.”
Kato said she also enjoyed Road America and Lake Michigan. “I like cars so much and this was the first time we could say we saw a race,” said Kato, whose sister, Rinna, attends LUJ. “Lake Michigan was clear and beautiful, emerald blue. I’ve never seen a big lake before. In Japan we don’t have lakes like that, so it was a good experience.”
Yusei Shimizu said his highlight was the Chicago trip and all the tall buildings. He’s enjoying learning more English and hopes to work in advertising someday.
A highlight for Rina Shirai has been the cooking. Students learned to make homemade pizza with LU Director of Dining Services Mark Wagner, and the students conducted a Japanese cooking demonstration for LU staff members.
“People are very kind and funny,” Shirai said.
The students and McDonald have created a strong bond. Her birthday occurred during the trip, and they surprised her with cupcakes that they made.
“They messaged me and said there was an emergency and when I came in, they started singing ‘Happy Birthday,’” said McDonald, who has been with LUJ for five years.
Several Lakeland staff members were keys to the successful visit, McDonald said, including Ben Zuengler from admissions, Caroline Korhonen from dining services, academic dean Paul Pickhardt and head women’s volleyball coach Ryan Schopf.