IPU Japan Immersion Programme: Kiwi students discovering Japanese culture

The New Zealand actor, Martin Henderson, said, “I love new places, new people, new ideas. I love cultural differences…” He’s not alone—in March, 19 IPU New Zealand first-year students travelled from Palmerston North to International Pacific University (IPU) in Okayama, Japan to spend 24 days immersed in Japanese culture.

The IPU Japan Immersion Programme bridges the gap between Japan and New Zealand, by letting students see what study options are available in Japan and encouraging them to apply for an exchange or sign up for IPU’s ‘degree plus’ programme.

Kiwi students also bond with IPU Japan students enrolled in a one-year study abroad programme at IPU New Zealand before both groups of students start their Semester 1 classes in Palmerston North. This means they have friends when they arrive on campus.

IPU New Zealand students experience survival Japanese classes, which help with self-directed orientation trips to local tourist destinations. They visit local high schools to introduce themselves to Japanese students looking to study English after high school so that New Zealand seems less scary as a study abroad destination. In addition, the kiwis listen to seminars by alumni and business professionals about career paths in Japan and what they can achieve on graduation.

Perhaps the most attractive benefit of the IPU Japan Immersion Programme is that students have the opportunity to visit Japanese historical and unique destinations to get a real behind-the-scenes taste of Japan not normally available to tourists—including onsens (hot springs), castles, Japanese businesses—and enjoy a homestay visit with a Japanese family.

Dean of the IPU New Zealand English Language Studies programme, Brendon Chapple, who is travelling with the kiwi students, notes that the academic ability of the New Zealand students on the Immersion Programme is very high: “A few of the kiwis were saying that they are aiming for A grades in their studies at IPU New Zealand and many of them want to be English teachers in the future,” he says.

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