The University of Aizu in Fukushima, Japan is renowned not only for offering computer science engineering education but also for fostering a multicultural experience, primarily through the Global Lounge. This Lounge serves as a platform where international and Japanese students can immerse themselves in each other’s cultures, enhance their language proficiency, and cultivate new friendships.
The Global Lounge boasts an array of engaging activities, such as the EEE-Chat (Elective English Evening-Chat) conducted every Monday, JJJ-Chat (Joyful Japanese Journey-Chat) held every Wednesday, International Talk which features presentations about diverse countries each month, and Movie Night. During Movie Night, if the film is in English, we watch it with Japanese subtitles, and vice versa.
Among these activities, my personal favorite is the JJJ-Chat, as it enables me to enhance my Japanese-speaking skills. Since my first JJJ-Chat, I’ve been using the same elevator pitch in Japanese: 「アリサです。コンピューターエネルギーの三年生です。フィリピン人、だけどアメリカ在住です。寿司が好き。ピアノが好き。よろしくお願いします。」(I’m Alyssa. I’m a third-year computer engineering student. I’m Filipino but I live in the United States. I love sushi and piano. Nice to meet you.)
My elevator pitch would be more intricate back in the US, given that my Japanese skills are still in the elementary stage. I would also include details such as being born in Alabama, raised in California, and currently residing in Georgia. Interestingly, most of my Japanese classmates are unfamiliar with the various states, although some are acquainted with certain facts about them, like the fact that The Walking Dead was filmed in Georgia. It surprises me that they possess such information while not knowing the geographical locations of these states. However, this is understandable, as I myself didn’t know the names of Japan’s five main islands until I came here to study.
I’m glad I actively participated in JJJ-Chat here. I was able to learn phrases and words I didn’t expect to learn, such as slang like 「おもろ」(omoro). It’s the shortened form of 「おもしろい」(omoshiroi) which means interesting or funny. But when used in a certain tone, it can be sarcastic just like when we say “hahaha very funny” in a monotonous voice in English.
Looking back, the Global Lounge at the University of Aizu has been a transformative space during my journey as a student. This hub of connection has introduced me to some of my closest friends. Mixing Japanese words into my dialogue with local friends, a practice they’ve noticed and praised, speaks volumes about the power of immersion and support.
The Global Lounge’s impact extends beyond friendships. It has opened doors to bonds that transcend borders, linking me with friends from the Philippines, Germany, Indonesia, China, and more. These interactions have widened my perspective, enriching my understanding of the world’s diversity. In essence, the Global Lounge encapsulates the essence of our collective pursuit for genuine connection. Beyond language, it symbolizes a shared commitment to embracing differences and fostering a space where friendships flourish. This vibrant space has enriched my experience, shaping me as an individual who values the beauty of global camaraderie.
The photos shown are of the first JJJ-Chat of the quarter and the last EEE-Chat of the quarter.