Studying abroad in Tokyo ain’t all its cracked up to be.

A reader passed along an article that appeared in the Temple News, which looks to be a student-run newspaper for the university.

It says, “studying abroad in Tokyo comes with fine print”, and that Temple Japan isn’t exactly the institution that the rah-rah crowd make it out to be.

A lot of the article goes to cultural adjustments you have to make when you live in Japan, which, as person who put in five years there, I can tell you very few young people seem to have a problem with.

The hassles about renting and finding an academic crowd to hang around wtih might be bigger difficulties.

But the primary difficulty seems to be getting worthwhile classes, which is what you ordinarily attend a college for, right? (I am right about that, right?)

Here is the Money Quote:

“I’m used to Main Campus and a million classes to choose from,” Furukawa said. “Some of the Japan-admit kids were saying it’s hard to get the classes they need to graduate on time, so apparently it’s a common feeling. Of my four classes this semester, three of them were basically jokes.

(Emphasis added.)

Seventy-five percent of a semester schedule, basically jokes.

Eeeech!

I wonder what one class was the one that wasn’t a joke.

I know exactly what’s wrong with Temple Japan. It’s that it isn’t a joint venture with a Japanese university (where the Japanese government, and not Pennsylvania, is paying the rent.) The classes as the school is structured are always going to be jokes, because the whole premise of the operation is to take American classes in a Tokyo environment.

I know there are those TUJ successes who are going to come back at me on this, but usually they talk about specific, relatively small numbers of good happenings, while I am trying to look at the overall picture.

You can easily rearrange Temple Japan into something else and still have the success stories. You just don’t need to hide where the rent for the facilities comes from in order to do it.

I know Waseda runs a year abroad program with Syracuse University (New York), which is highly regarded for what it does. Why can’t Temple Japan ask to set up in some space at one of the Tokyo universities, or ICU, or some other better-established facility, and offer a credible curriculum? Not one that overemphasizes the fact that you are taking American college credit classes in the “Tokyo environment”, (with not enough capable expats around to teach the classes . . . )

I hope that Pennsylvania’s new Corbett Administration appoints someone to the 34-member Temple board of directors who will finally ask the tough questions. As I keep saying, it’s really not a lot to ask.

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8 comments

  1. Kei · February 1, 2011

    Here’s the unfortunate reality. Classes at TUJ are spit into two types: The ones you can pass if you’re an (emphasis added) NON NATIVE SPEAKER OF ENGLISH, and the ones you can’t. It’s the nature and environment. My guess? They need to maintain their Japanese academic accreditation, and a school full of foreigners would look like crap, so they have to cater to the Japanese kids at LEAST half the time. (…or 75 percent of it even.)

    I had anthropology and sociology classes there that kicked my ass, as well as media classes where I got A’s in my sleep. (Literally, the class was at 9:00 AM and I never once woke up for it.) This isn’t just TUJ though, the main campus is the same way. Temple is a school where you only get out what you put in (much like life!). If you want to sign up for easy courses and drop the hard ones? You can. You can graduate that way if you’re lucky enough. If you want to get through only doing the bare minimum, then chances are you’ll be an underachiever for life.

    • hoofin · February 1, 2011

      This all sounds like a round-about way of saying that Temple is a very political place. Kei, my guess is that I have at least a few years on you, and so that somes to me as no surprise. In fact, I guess it’s the more things change, the more they stay the same.

  2. Kei · February 1, 2011

    Actually you don’t, I’m 57 years old. And you are a genius. Yes Temple is a political place. While you’re fishing for financial answers about TUJ could you please ask them why the president of the University lives in a million dollar penthouse on Rittenhouse Square?

    • Simon · February 4, 2011

      If you’re 57 then [ ] become a lot more vomit-inducing, Kei!

  3. hoofin · February 1, 2011

    The difference is that people know Ann Weaver Hart has the Rittenhouse penthouse (and can estimate the price), but the rent Temple pays to a private landlord in Tokyo is hidden in another part of the overall financials.

    I bet, if you wanted to, that you could find the value of the penthouse in the employment contract, even. Temple stays mum about what it pays to the Tokyo landlord though.

    • Kei · February 5, 2011

      The difference is that people know Ann Weaver Hart has the Rittenhouse penthouse (and can estimate the price), but the rent Temple pays to a private landlord in Tokyo is hidden in another part of the overall financials.

      That’s a good distinction to make. There’s no excuse for a non-profit institution to hide shit in its financials. If you’re going to waste money, be honest about it.

      Simon, insult my blog on MY goddamned comments section. (But thanks anyways, for the link)

      • Simon · February 7, 2011

        I wasn’t insulting your blog. I simply find it hard to reconcile that passage with you being 57 years old. I thought one of them was fabricated.

        • hoofin · February 7, 2011

          Hey, hey. Everybody be nice here! I just thought the original was a typo. If it was a Kei imposter, they’ve been using the same IP for quite a few comments.

          My original post was that I remember about the political smells coming out of Temple in the 1980’s, particularly Temple Law. Carl Singley wasn’t wanted as dean by some, who favored Robert Reinstein; and then there still other candidates that the faculty was trying to get in. The place is highly political, but doesn’t seem to be very responsive when the public asks questions about where the money is spent.

          Temple is about 30% funded by the citizens of Pennsylvania. But they act like the other 70% does everything.

          On the tangent, though, I think anyone age 57 would like to have the ability to write about issues of sexual passion like that.

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