Located in Hikone, Shiga Prefecture, JCMU reflects the Sister State relationship between Michigan and Shiga. It serves Michigan’s 15 public universities as well as universities in Shiga, creating linkages, direct enrollment possibilities, and programs for both. JCMU offers internships and courses on Japan to Michigan students and English language courses to Shiga students, including an innovative In-Country Study Abroad program in which Japanese students room together with U.S. students at JCMU.
What follows are a more detailed description of JCMU and its goals, as well as a series of photographs with comments by one or more of the students shown in them. You can also visit the program website.
“The class size was very small and we were all very comfortable with each other and the teachers as well. As a result, we were able to learn and communicate without embarrassment over making mistakes.”
—Ian Lin (2nd row, 3rd from the left), Summer Language Program 2014 (University of Michigan, Computer Engineering)
“My experience has provided me the knowledge to be a better public health professional because I engaged myself in a number of public health practices that included; research, laboratory testing, field work, observation, communicating and collaborating. As I look to become a public health professional I am positive that the JCMU experience has made me a much better candidate. Lastly, if there is one thing I know it is that because of the JCMU I will visit Japan again.”
—Renold JeanLouis, ESJ 2014 (Michigan State University, Masters of Public Health)
The Japan Center for Michigan Universities (JCMU) was established in 1989 as a consortium of 15 public universities in Michigan seeking to create a more sustainable and successful study abroad experience in Japan. Working with Michigan’s sister state, Shiga Prefecture, the universities created a facility in Hikone, Japan, thus building instructional capacity to effectively educate undergraduate and graduate students in Japanese language, history, religion, politics, geography, health care, environmental studies and cultural studies. JCMU has grown to offer programs throughout the year, including academic-year, semester-long, May short programs, summer semester, and culture/career hybrid programs focusing on health, environment, education, and internships. JCMU serves the citizens of Shiga Prefecture and Japan by offering a portfolio of high-quality English language programs. Classes are available for learners from children through adults, as well as professionally focused courses, such as business English to help businesses to engage more successfully in a global setting. JCMU’s innovative In-Country Study Abroad Program (kokunai ryugaku) provides Japanese college students the opportunity to live with American students at the Center in Japan while participating in JCMU’s intensive English language program. JCMU also partners with local universities in Shiga Prefecture and the Kansai region to provide students with a wide range of academic and cultural experiences during their study abroad program in Japan.
JCMU is a unique and innovative center defined by four distinguishing elements: program accessibility, fiscal affordability, high-quality curriculum and relevance of program curriculum to the student’s larger educational and career/professional goals. The Center has a longstanding tradition of academic, racial, ethnic, and economic diversity, accepting students with various physical and learning disabilities and mental illnesses, as well as enrolling high numbers of minority and financially disadvantaged students. JCMU is one of the only programs in Japan that is accessible to beginning Japanese language learners, thus opening the doors to a wide range of students who have not yet been exposed to the language. JCMU’s culture/career hybrid programs offer a unique balance of Japanese cultural study and professional opportunity for students interested in science, health, technology, and business. Fiscally, JCMU remains one of the few Japanese study abroad programs that offer a full semester (16-week) program for less than $11,000. Program affordability directly correlates to JCMU’s diverse student population and allows many non-traditional students to study abroad.
JCMU’s strong core curriculum of Japanese language and cultural education, combined with a robust schedule of co-curricular activities, cultural site visits, internship experiences, and numerous opportunities for students to engage with Japanese peers creates a valuable foundation of knowledge and skills that students bring home. In correlation, JCMU has helped Japanese language programs and international studies divisions thrive at Michigan’s 15 public universities. Outside Michigan, JCMU maintains affiliate or cooperative relationships with institutions of higher education in California, Illinois, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Wisconsin, and cooperative membership is available to any institution of higher education in North America. In order to better prepare all students for their experience, JCMU has a satellite administrative office on the campus of Michigan State University. The Michigan-based staff works closely with the Shiga Prefectural Visiting Official in Michigan and with all members to make sure each participant’s experience at JCMU enhances his/her studies at the home institution and remains a valuable element of their college experience and beyond.
“I also had the opportunity to stay with a host family that was extremely fun. I am with them in the attached photo of us all in Yukata ready to go to a fireworks festival. During my stay with this family, I was able to use and practice my Japanese as they knew no English. My host sister had just started learning English but my experience was still primarily Japanese. This really helped my listening skills a lot and I’ll remember this experience forever. My stay in Hikone, Japan was beautiful and it was very sad to leave as I felt not that I was just staying in Japan, but was actually living in Japan and getting used to a way of life there. I have been back in the States for about 8 days now and am still dealing with the very real situation of reverse culture shock. It’s a little tough but getting better. But it gets easier the more I recollect on my experiences in Japan and share with my friends and family here.”
— MacLain Credeur, Summer Language 2014 (Michigan State University, Apparel and Textile Design & Japanese)
“On top of societal differences, I also learned much about interacting with many kinds of people from very different backgrounds. From this, I believe I have become a more tolerant and accepting person. I can now view situations from new viewpoints more easily and I believe that is an invaluable skill.
Although at first I doubted my ability to handle studying in Japan on my own, I managed to adapt and learn what I needed to make my experience in Japan successful. The choice to study abroad in Japan was truly one of the best decisions I could have made. While I learned much in the classroom, it is what I learned from Hikone and the many people I met there that left a lasting impression on me.”
— Cyril Casapao, Summer Language 2014 (Grand Valley State University, Computer Science)
“My experience at Nitto was definitely a positive one. Before the internship, when I was asked what kind of work I wished to do, I asked for any possible opportunities in translation, interpretation, and just overall any job that could make use of my knowledge of English and Japanese. The company was very eager to give me the kind of work I had requested, and tried very hard to make sure that my job and responsibilities were clear to me. I had never done work in translation before, so there were times where I struggled, but I do believe I have improved in this area. I also had a few opportunities to try Japanese to English interpretation as well for new interns coming from overseas. This was both rewarding and difficult; it made me realize I need to improve my Japanese, but it also got me excited to try again in the future.”
— Emily Hammond, Summer Internship 2014 (Michigan State University, Japanese)