|School Name||Nevers High School|
|Time of Travel||February 2017|
|Age of Students||16-18 years old|
|Number of Participants||About 15 people in total|
|Host School (School Exchange)||Saginomiya Metropolitan High School (Tokyo)|
Host School (School Exchange)
|School Name||Saginomiya Metropolitan High School|
Nevers High School Arrival
1st Year “Humans and Society” Class
Transition to Classrooms
Club Activity Visits
Departure from School
location_cityReviews from Teachers
I wanted our students to get a genuine taste of Japanese high school life by having the same exprience Japanese students have.
We chose Japan as our destination of educational travel because I am a Japanese teacher, and I have always had the desire to bring my students to Japan someday. In my five years of teaching, this was the first time we ever planned to go there on an educational travel.
For financial concerns, it has been difficult for us to visit Japan. We would spend a day or two in Japantown in Paris visiting Japanese bookstores, restaurants, and exhibitions featuring East Asian arts. Yet both students and parents have shown strong eagerness for an educational travel to Japan.
In France, there are no such thing as school excursions, which require every student to participate as those in Japan. Instead, teachers who are willing to do so volunteer to plan the trip and recruit students.
For example, students studying English go to English-speaking countries, and those studying Spanish go to Spanish-speaking countries. Also, only students who desire to participate will join in the program. Especially in France, as a part of Europe, European languages are taught as first and second foreign languages, so travel agencies have packages ready to offer. Nonetheless, in the case of Japanese – since few schools offer Japanese classes, there are no travel packages for Japan; therefore, I had to put great effort in arranging the accommodation and itinerary all by myself.
My impression of Japanese schools was that, unlike schools in France, each one had an unique personality of its own, in terms of regulations and school atmosphere. With the arrangement of Tokyo Convention and Visitors Bureau along with other connections, this time we had the opportunity to visit three schools, which were Kyoto Prefectural Toba High School, Tokyo Metropolitan Kokusai High School, and Saginomiya Metropolitan High School. The characteristics of each school were completely different, let alone the atmosphere. While every student in each school was facing great pressure from their studies, I had this impression that they can get their work well-done while enjoying club activities and high school life to the fullest.
Toba High School and Saginomiya High School were similar in that their students were nicely dressed in uniforms. Meanwhile, many students of Tokyo Metropolitan Kokusai High School lived abroad for a long period of time before returning to Japan, so the characteristics of this school were totally different from the others, which surprised my students. In Toba High School, students joined in normal classes and club activities. It really felt like experiencing a day in the life of a Japanese high school student. The experience at Tokyo Metropolitan Kokusai was somewhere between Toba High School and Saginomiya High School. Students not only joined in normal classes but also took Japanese courses for foreigners and French class. In Saginomiya High School, students from both schools chatted at the exchange gathering and took part in club activities. I was glad that they were able to have so many different kinds of experience.
The primary goal of this educational travel was to allow students to experience what Japanese high school students experience. I had always wanted them to get a taste of Japanese high school life, and to experience everyday life of Japanese high schoolers. They had homestay experience and spent a night in Toba High School as well. By joining a sightseeing trip, you may visit historical buildings, take pictures, and learn something; however, there is scarcely a chance to experience everyday lives in that country. This is why we arranged homestay so that students were allowed to experience the daily life of a Japanese high school student.
When arranging the itinerary, I had to include Kyoto and Tokyo in our plan because for all of the students, this was their very first time to visit Japan. I also included Koyasan for personal touch. It was not so much about religion; it was rather about experiencing Zen and Buddhism as a part of Japanese culture. Besides this, I did not want them to just visit big cities such as Tokyo and Kyoto but to visit regional towns as well.
location_cityReviews from Students
Kendo, a traditional type of Japanese martial art, was the most interesting part. What a shocking experience!
Before coming to Japan, I thought Japanese were very polite. I felt the cities would be lined with skyscrapers but clean and with beautiful scenery. And I thought there would be cosplayers here and there in town. Even after I came, my impression did not change much. People were unfailingly polite. However, what I had not expected was that many people would be wearing surgical masks. Also the streets were impeccably clean despite the fact that trash cans were nowhere to be seen. In France, the situation is the exact opposite – even though there are trash cans on the street, trash is still scattered here and there on the ground. I was really surprised at the cleanness of streets in Japan.
The most interesting part of the school exchange activities was kendo. In France, there are no clubs or any activities similar in high school. We have things like drama clubs after school, but they are different from those in Japan. Karate is popular even in France and I learned it once in school. Though I know that kendo is a traditional Japanese martial art, it still came to me as a surprise that people would shout in such way and that kendo integrated etiquette and high-intensity exercise.
During this school exchange, I felt that Japanese high school students smiled much more and were more amiable than French students. They gave me the impression of being open-hearted. In France, we never cry out, “cute!” in a voice as loud as Japanese people do.
Regarding the Japan educational travel as a whole, the high school visit was a great experience, but what else left an impression on me was the visit to Koyasan. Also, in Osaka the neon lights there were so bright and the place was filled with energy and liveliness.
I learned a lot about a culture I was not familiar with through this experience, and I think it would be great for me to share this experience back in France. I want to visit Japan again soon.
Great to learn how Japanese high school students of my age think and get to know their culture!
Before I came to Japan, I thought Japanese people ate sushi almost every day. They don’t eat it that often actually. I was surprised to see so many people wearing surgical masks in Japan. It was hard for me to imagine. Also, I have never seen streets so clean even without trash cans. After coming to Japan, there were times when I could not find any trash cans and had to carry trash with me the whole day.
The way Saginomiya High School greeted us left an impression on me during school exchange activities. They were open-minded. Though we just met, they were really kind and were always smiling. It was impressive. Club activities were fun, too. In France, the most popular martial arts are judo and kendo. When I was younger, I had learned judo for seven years. Now, I play tennis and gymnastics.
After this exchange, I feel like Japanese high school students are friends. In France, students always seem to be sizing each other up.
During the whole trip, the most interesting part was definitely visiting the high schools. Meeting people of my age, I felt great to be able to learn how they think and get to know their culture. In such a short period of time, I became friends with many people.
I found myself really in love with Japan through this experience. I would like to come again with my family. I was glad I could experience things that I would have never encountered in France. This very experience in a country with a totally different culture has opened my heart.