Capitol times. (Middletown, Pa.) 1982-2013, December 06, 1982, Image 10

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    Japanese student
Contrasts in culture
from dress to discipline
By Jo Griffiths
“Rough and practical” were
the words an international stu
dent used to describe the way
we dress at Capitol Campus.
Growing up in a culture
where school uniforms are still
worn, Japanese student Kazuko
Eizuru was pleasantly surpris
ed with the casual dress of
American students.
“When I first came here,
everyone was wearing jeans,”
said Eizuru, a graduate student
in the American Studies pro
gram here since last
September. “Students don’t
dress up, although the older
people do dress neatly.”
Quick to point out the steady
influence of Western clothing in
Japan, Eizuru said dress was
the least significant of the
many differences the Japanese
women noted when contrasting
life in Japan and the U.S.
Among the others were the
cheerfulness of the area’s peo
ple, and the English language
itself. According to Eizuru,
Japanese children begin study
ing English at age 12, but em
phasis is placed on reading and
writing the language rather
than speaking it.
“Not even those teaching
English in Japan have the op
portunity to listen to the native,
spoken language,” she said, ex
plaining that prior to coming to
Capitol she had taught the
language in a private school in
Japan. “Local dialects are dif
ficult because they differ so
much from the standard form.”
When Eizuru first arrived in
this area, she had trouble
understanding speech patterns
because of what she termed a
“linking concept.” It seemed, to
her ear, that words merely ran
together in one long stream
when her instructors and others
To adjust, she took some
undergraduate courses and
discovered what to her was a
refreshing difference between
the two countries’ classrooms.
Japanese students, she said,
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spend their classroom time
listening to lectures and taking
lots of notes (10 to 15 pages per
hour is not unusual). American
students spend more time in
teracting with their professors.
“There’s so much discussion
in my classes here, so much
more academic freedom,” said
Eizuru. “Not only does one
have the opportunity to learn
from one’s instructor, blit from
fellow students as well.”
A reason for the relaxed
classroom atmosphere could be
the informal interpersonal rela
tionships between people of all
ages, Eizuru says £he has
observed at Capitol Campus.
“The Japanese people have
specific, formal ways of ad
dressing others according to
age, sex* and position,” she
said. “It’s nice to watch people
of all ages discussing one
another freely.”
Of particular interest to
Eizuru was the freedom of
American women. Educated in
what she termed a democratic
manner, she sees American
women as “spoiled” by
“Japanese women are very
strong because they have learn
ed to be disciplined,” she noted.
“Women here seem to have a
frailty which could cause pro
blems for them when on their
“Appearances here are more
equal than in Japan,” Eizuru
pointed out, “but while
American men seem to be try
ing to support women, I’m not
sure that’s true in a fundamen
tal sense.”
Her thoughts may surface in
the thesis she is currently work
ing on which compares
Japanese and American
women. Information for the
paper will come from a survey
of female high school students
in both countries.
“We Japanese are also in
fluenced by the American
dream tradition,” she stated,
“and while the people here
seem so cheerful and carefree,
they do have problems, too.”
Still, Eizuru plans to incor-
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porate a number of her ex
periences here into her life in
Japan. Included will be the
academic freedoms experienc
ed at Capitol Campus,
something she wishes to in
troduce to her students when
she resumes her teaching
career there.
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Another will be what she calls
“Americans speak So freely
to one another. There is so
much discussion here, so much
communication. Expressing
with words is nice, and good.
I’m going to try not to forget
that kina of thing.”