I am starting the process of winding down … preparing for the long journey home. I know I will be here for two more weeks but classes ended Thursday and last night there was a Faculty farewell party … one of those places where they keep bringing you little plates of food and keep pouring beer in your glass. I didn’t feel anything until I started walking home. I thought the walk would be good for me. Let me just say it was an interesting walk (stagger?) home.
In two weeks, I'll be heading back to Philadelphia. Wow. Those eight weeks flew by.
My last day of classes was really sad for me. I have so enjoyed these students. They are different than the ones I have on the main campus --- many of whom have grown up in the Philly area and never done any foreign travel. The students here are more outgoing, more curious. They are a little older on average than in my US classes and so they have more life experience. They were interested, engaged, did the work, asked good questions, made arguments.
I had a group of military vets in my marketing class. I get one or two vets in my US classes, but half of this class was veterans. Whether here, or in the US, these are guys and gals who are used to knuckling down and getting the job down. Their experience enables them to add so much to the class discussion. I was talking in one class about "price" and how it depends on the context. Price of a bottle of water at a convenience store may be $1.25. That same bottle of water at the movie theater is $5.00. One of the vets shared that he'd been at some festival in Japan where they were selling "hot dog" water for $40! He wasn't exactly sure what it was but it supposedly had health benefits.
The exchange students from the US have had the guts to pack themselves up and move to another country. Wish I had done it when I was their age. Most of them are embracing the experience. Cramming in every bit of sightseeing, traveling, and eating in that they can before they have to go home. (Just like I am!)
I had students from a variety of different family backgrounds ... American, Japanese, Chinese, Pakistani, Sikh. Some from mixed heritage: German father, Japanese mother - spoke English with a German accent; Japanese mother, British father - spoke with an English accent. I have these kind of students in my US classes, but they get lost in the numbers. My classes here (17 students) were about a quarter of the size of my US classes (72). The class rooms are smaller, and flat with movable tables and chairs, so I could get out among them. Easily put them into groups work. Rearrange the furniture. Get to know them.
My last class ended on a really funny note. The final assignment in the business communications class was to give a speech. I gave them a list of 30 topics to choose from, and they each had a maximum of 6 minutes to speak. I was using the clock on my phone to time them. I made them stop talking when timer music went off.
The penultimate speaker talked about her search for her path in life. Something I can relate to. I'm still searching at this advanced age. When she finished I told her what I tell all my students ... "What you do the day you graduate, doesn't have to be what you do with the rest of your life. Look at me, I have a PhD in chemistry and here I am teaching marketing and communications in Japan." I got the usual reaction. A gasp. A question ... really? The class philosopher wanted to know the title of my dissertation.
Then the final speaker, who is dealing with a serious illness, got and talked about the power of laughter. What a great final topic. When she finished, I got up to give my final remarks. I was about halfway through what I wanted to say when the timer on my phone went off. Every body burst out laughing, especially me. "Well, i guess times up! I have to stop talking."