For two weeks from September 12, 2014 to September 29, 30 first-year undergraduate students took part in the 18th START Program *. Led by Professor Emiko Nakasaka (of the Graduate School of Social Sciences) and another teaching staff member, the students went to Flinders University in Adelaide, South Australia.
At the main campus of Flinders University, the students were divided into 3 groups and studied English (expressions, pronunciation and vocabulary) from three different teachers and learned important skills for note-taking in lectures as well as skills for holding the final presentations. The students practiced what they learned and could show their ability to the fullest by attending lessons, introducing Japanese culture at a local primary school and by interviewing local students for preparing the final group presentation. After the START participants also had attended special lesson about education, history and social problems in Australia, they exchanged with local students talking about such topics. They also had the opportunity to attend regular lectures of Flinders University together with local students and experienced the real atmosphere of studying abroad. The HU participants discussed with local students of their age, but first, they couldn’t understand their English. However, through practicing every day by talking with their host families and studying on the campus, the students gradually improved their English. Some felt frustrated because they couldn’t follow regular lessons, but others said that they were very happy when they could write down some keywords or important details of the lectures.
Furthermore, at the primary school where the participants visited twice, they observed a class and exchanged with school children, and could find out a viewpoint of Japan-Australia comparison of education environments. This experience helped them to exchange views with their host families or teachers and to make preparations for the final presentation. Further, introducing Japanese culture in English was useful to develop their self-confidence. The weekend that the HU students spent on Kangaroo Island allowed them to experience the unique natural beauty of the island and also diversified and expanded their knowledge on Australia.
Similar to the previous (8th and 13th) START Programs, all of the participants lived with different families during their stay in Australia. In the beginning, the students felt some hesitation and embarrassment because of communication problems with the host family and of cultural differences in lifestyles. However, they were able to gain many valuable experiences visiting sightseeing spots with their host families and enjoying delicious home cooking.
The students spent a fulfilling time. Staying in Australia, they said: “I would like to go for a long-term overseas study program after my second year at university” or told about concrete plans such as: “I would like to establish a study group for continuous English learning and information sharing.” In addition, at the follow-up session after the START Program, they mentioned that they could “deepen self-awareness” and they became more “active and self-confident”. It was impressive to see how they had grown up through this experience.
* The START Program provides first year students who have little overseas experience the opportunity to attend lectures and see everyday life at a foreign partner university in order to raise interest in international/cross-cultural activities and studying abroad. It was established in 2010 and has already been held 19 times. This time they had the 18th program. The Hiroshima University Fund financially supports part of the research expenses to lessen students’ economic burden and to give a broader population of students the opportunity to study abroad. Before the participants went to study abroad, they had to attend 3 lectures and presentations within a training period of 2 months and 7 voluntary study meetings (in case of the 18th START Program). Back in Japan, they had a follow-up session.
Exchanging and discussing with local students
An English lesson
Weekend trip to the Kangaroo Island
Host parents were also invited to the farewell party
International Exchange Group,
Education and International Office,
(* Please replace（AT）with @)