多摩大学目黒トップ > キャンパスニュース > 2018年2月13日号
Tamadai Meguro/Lynfield Student Exchange
My experience as an exchange student in Japan has highlighted the differences between the educational system in New Zealand and in Japan. The five week opportunity was given to me as part of the Tamadai Meguro and Lynfield College student exchange programme, which allowed for one student from Japan to experience New Zealand schooling in exchange for me to attend school in Tokyo, Japan.
The first most obvious difference is in the layout of the school campus'. Back in New Zealand, Lynfield College stretches itself laterally, making room changes a daily struggle as students often have to dart through the seas of other, incoming students. Tamadai Meguro is on the other extreme of what you would call the ‘school layout’ scale; standing an impressive six storeys, slap bang in the middle of a busy city. Although climbing the stairs provided a strenuous exercise, students did not need to change classes every period making the trip to the fifth floor only an occasional one.
Another difference was the teaching styles in schools. New Zealand is very much technology based, where students have to bring in their personal device on top of their workbooks and stationery. On the other hand, Japan seems to keep to its traditional way of schooling, maintains the 1950’s schoolroom aesthetic with the wooden desks facing the podium and dusty blackboard. The New Zealand educational system mainly focuses on group work and team building, by grouping students via seating arrangements and by creating assignments that are to be completed as a shared project. On the flip side Japan focuses on individuality and strength through personal determination. Because of this, students work more diligently in and have more tests to retain their memory. I found the schooling environment in Japan to be much different to how I’m used to in New Zealand, and because of that I struggled to keep up with some of the lessons and was amazed with the large workload handed to students.
Another thing I personally struggled with, was the isolation that came with being one of the only foreigners in the school. New Zealand, being a multicultural nation, it is not an uncommon sight to see students with different cultural backgrounds attending the same school. Lynfield College is a prime example of the cultural diversity we are lucky to have in New Zealand. Lynfield has large populations of Indian, Pacifican, Chinese, East Asian, Korean and Japanese students which far outnumber the European (Pakeha) students attending. As a result, many schools including Lynfield College have an international office and English classes specialized in teaching students whose second language is English. These initiatives help many students especially those would are currently on exchange in New Zealand. However in Japan, such things don’t exist as majority of students attending school are native Japanese. Although there was no ‘safety net’ for foreigners like me at Tamadai Meguro, I found that it pushed me to only speak Japanese and as I was totally immersed in Japanese language and culture during my stay. Without many native English speakers being around, I found that my Japanese improved immensely whilst funnily enough, I began to notice that my English began to slightly weaken during my phone calls home to New Zealand.
I would most definitely recommend this exchange to other students that are serious on improving their Japanese skills. Getting used to school life in Japan was very challenging for me, however the benefits I reaped from the exchange, like the friends I made and the confidence gained all greatly outnumbered the negatives and doubts I had prior to going on the exchange. I hope to continue learning Japanese and one day return to Japan and reunite with many of the friends I made at this school.
With utmost kindness,