Hey everybody! I am at my internship in Japan, and I thought I would tell you a little bit about the differences between Gallaudet and Tsukuba University of Technology.
The academic culture is a little different here. In the US, it is usually easy to get into a college or university, but you have to work hard to graduate. In Japan, it is very hard to get in, but once you are in, you will definitely graduate. As a result, classes seem more laid back than at Gallaudet, and students chat with each other a lot of the time. Side conversations are not tolerated at US universities! It’s easy for an American to observe these classes and say “those students aren’t learning anything” but I think it is just a different academic culture. When students answer homework questions, they are almost always right! So they are learning, but in a different way.
Gallaudet is very strongly sign-oriented; there are oral people who talk, but everybody signs as well. NTUT is very much a mix of communication styles. Not all students are fluent in JSL; there is a class (similar to Gallaudet’s NSP) for students who need more JSL exposure. Some hearing teachers sim-com, and call out to students rather than waving to get their attention. Of course teachers know who can hear them and who can’t, but it is very strange to me to be at a deaf university with so much talking! I don’t speak any Japanese, so I am not doing much talking at all. I did give a short presentation today, and the teacher doesn’t have very good ASL skills, so I used sim-com and she interpreted my speech into JSL for the students. My throat hurt after that because I never talk here!
Most of the staff here is hearing, there are only a few deaf people who work at NTUT. At Gallaudet the faculty has a much greater percentage of deaf members, and there are deaf staff as well. When I see two adults walking around talking to each other, I know they’re hearing. At Gallaudet, even hearing people usually sim-com to each other!
Classes here are 90 minutes, and there is 10 minutes “passing time” between classes. Classes start at 8:50am and the last ends at 6:00pm, I believe, though not everybody has classes in every slot.
They don’t have a wide variety of majors here. Gallaudet has a few dozen programs to choose from, but NTUT has two: synthetic design, and industrial information. You can read details of the programs here.
Only a few students do not wear some type of hearing device. Most wear BTE hearing aids, and just like at Gallaudet, they come in a range of colors, sizes, and styles. A surprising number of students wear ITE hearing aids, the kind that fill the shell of the ear and are usually skin colored. (Except Japanese skin is not the same color as Caucasian skin, so it’s a little off.) There are very few ITE wearers at Gallaudet…I have only seen a few. Here there are many more. Conversely, only a few students here wear CI’s, and many more wear them at Gallaudet – or at least have had the surgery, even if they’re not wearing the device! (Then again, maybe it is just easier to tell at Gallaudet because of Bald Day every year?)
I am really loving my time at NTUT and I am learning JSL as fast as I can. It’s funny though, when I sign “thank you,” in my head I say “thank you” and not “arigato.” I’ll write more soon!