COIL Day!!! Today was the entire reason for our trip to Japan- the COIL International Symposium hosted at Kansai University in Osaka. Japanese people really have a way of making you feel important. When we arrived in Osaka, they had sent someone from the travel agency to pick us up from the train station- sign and all! And then when we got to the University on the morning of the symposium, they had a conference room for us with gift bags, name tags and coffee!
The day started off with a couple of talks about Japan and the COIL program in the morning, followed by a Japanese style lunch. In the afternoon portion, it was our turn to present all of our hard work and show the audience of university administrators, professors, and business men and women what COIL is all about. Our professor and the Kansai professor that we worked with spoke about the COIL program we used in our class, the assignments we had and how they were able to incorporate it in to their coursework. During this part, myself, Ally, and some of the Kansai students got up to explain the benefits and personal challenges we had experienced over the semester. Originally, our student testimonials we not supposed to be very long, but it turns out that the audience had the most questions for us out of anyone speaking all day! They really wanted to hear from the students and what we honestly thought of the program. They asked us about each of the assignments, how we stayed motivated to do it, whether or not we think what we learned would help us in the future business world. It was great to feel like people wanted our perspective the most, because if they decided to incorporate the COIL program into their classes and universities, then they wanted to know how students would react and feel about it.
The cross-cultural competence class we worked with at Kansai was made up of students from Japan, and teaching assistants from the U.K. and Australia, so this really was a completely intercultural experience. After we finished the presentation the Kansai students gave us a full tour around the campus and then took us on the train to Shinsiabashi, a huge shopping area that is basically the Times Square of Osaka. We had pan fried Japanese noodles called “yakisoba,” which I have discovered is one of my favorite things to eat here. I also love the shrimp tempura and dumplings! Some of the girls got “Takoyacki” which is fried octopus! Tacko means octopus and yacki means fried. So there you go. I was truly too full from dinner but I will definitely try one soon! They are also really big into fish here, way more than us, which I like, but I have yet to try “shashimi” or raw fish. Surprisingly, they don’t really eat any sushi here, as the foreign exchange students we have met say it’s more of a special occasion food! And here I am thinking they eat sushi for breakfast, lunch and dinner over here in Japan, boy was I misled. But they do like to have fish with breakfast… quite a bit of it.
I really like to try different foods, and love what they offer for lunch and dinner, but as for breakfast? Well, I really need my American food, as do the rest of the people in our group it seems. So I’ve been acting in true college student form and making do with what I have. Every morning before we get on the train to go somewhere, we stop to get food for breakfast, and I buy pancakes in a plastic package, and a small syrup container. I get a tiny ice cream spoon and pour the syrup in the pancake package. And you’re good to go! Now I realize how desperate this sounds (and looks), but a girl needs her pancakes in the morning.