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Back from the land of the rising sun

Six students from Goa University were selected to attend an exchange programme at Nihon University, Japan. The programme included 40 hours of modules on Japanese society, culture, business and communications. NT KURIOCITY caught up with three students to know about their experience

Alisha Nicole Carvalho | NT KURIOCITY

The Goa University has an ongoing collaboration with Nihon University, Japan which enables students to take part in exchange programmes. This year the six students selected to travel to Japan included Aaron Rodrigues, Elliya Mascarenhas and Dazzel Rego from the part two of the Masters in English; Ramrai Naik student from the part one of the Masters of political science; Tabrez Shaikh a part two student from department of management, and Ramya Allamsetty a part two student from department of women’s studies.

Upon returning here is what they have to say about Japan.


On buisness

The lone part one student to embark on the exchange programme, Ramrai Naik met with local entrepreneurs from Shizuoka city who shared their business models with him. Amongst them was a car leasing company that studied the needs of the locals and accordingly crafted its rental plans. The model enabled the company to expand to 20 locations in four years and according to Naik this can be used in Goa given its booming tourism sector. “A technological touch has been provided across various fields to make life simpler and faster. Most of the places we visited were disabled friendly,” he says.


On society and culture

Aaron Rodrigues, who recently completed his Masters degree in English, says his inclination towards literature had him pay close attention to the literature class, especially the folk tales and origin stories of Japan which are also related to Shintoism, Japan’s dominant belief system after Buddhism. “Japanese people do not consider themselves very religious; their theisms have a huge oral tradition and the lack of written texts helps them evolve with time. The most striking thing though is their respect for nature.  They revere nature. Anything that is old and long lasting becomes close to a god to them,” says Aaron. He adds that their love for nature is evident through their parks, lawns and walkways and well tended flora. The cleanliness in Japan, said Aaron, stems from their collective consciousness. “Everybody makes sure to hold on to their waste till they find segregated bins,” he adds. Agreeing with him Elliya says they also learned to carry empty packets of chips, wrappers or plastic and dispose of them in the nearest bin.

This too can be implemented in Goa through awareness campaigns. Unlike India where people have no regard for another’s space, the Japanese are synchronised to a decent way of living and mindful of others. Whether it is the polite greeting to every person you meet or the punctuality of the services. People don’t talk loudly in public transport to avoid disturbing others; they queue up in a line where ever there is a rush, says Aaron.

In Goa, when it comes to road safety one has to wait to cross the road even when using the zebra crossing. It is also not considered safe for girls to walk around freely in some areas here, whereas the same is not true in Japan as Elliya shares: “When we needed to cross roads with no zebra crossing, vehicles would halt no matter how busy the road is, we could cross safely, we would then bow as a sign of gratitude and then they would be on their way. I felt safe on the streets, walking past 7 p.m. to go to the store or the park as no one would bother me or my friends. Not even a glance unless to bow and say hello. I felt at peace to live in a place where it was a given I was safe.”


On food

Immersing himself into the local cuisine, Aaron learnt that is it more than just sushi and he also got a hand of eating with chopsticks! “Sushi is a delicacy and sake is a must with anything else that is had. Meron pan was a delicious sweet. From izakayas to eat traditional Japanese cuisine, we made our bellies happy,” says Elliya when asked about the food she sampled.


Forever etched in hearts

The Nihon University campus had everything to offer in one place. Such kind of educational campuses help in the holistic development of a student and students there were testimony to that fact, says Ramrai. He adds that the Japanese as a people were very welcoming “they tirelessly showcased their culture with a lot of enthusiasm.” To him the field trips to Hakone, Toyota manufacturing facility tour, Atami fireworks festival and Shibuya crossing will remain a special memory.

Elliya has made many friends back in Japan and she is still in touch with them. “The students, teachers and our coordinator, Hoshino Yuta made this journey very exciting,” she says.

Adding to the students’ experiences co-coordinator of Study Japan Program (SJP) and Study India Programme (SIP) along with head of programme, Ganesh Somyaji said: “For us the SJP has added a lot of value to the flagship (SIP) which has been one of the most successful exchange programmes of Goa University. As part of SIP more than 150 Japanese students from Mishima, Japan have done courses on Indian society, culture, politics and economy at Goa University and across various colleges in Goa for the last 15 years. Since the last four years we have been able to start the SJP with partial funding from Goa University and professor Ramsinh Asher, which has seen around 20 students going to Japan for a one-month programme and come back with fascinating memories. However, we have plans to restructure and modify the SIP in a big way to make Goa University an attractive destination for foreign students.

According to Aaron there is a lot more about Japan that he couldn’t pen down. It was an inspiring experience that changed his perception of the way people could co-exist harmoniously in the world.

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