Class Culture at the University of Tokyo
By YU NAKATSUKA
Which language do you want to study? Image by ryantbarnettusu | Pixabay.
In the University of Tokyo (UTokyo), every student chooses their third language from Spanish, French, German, Chinese, Italian, Korean and Russian. Students are divided into classes by their languages. Class culture plays an important role in campus life at UTokyo. Being part of a class helps students get information about courses and extracurricular activities. Above all, it provides an opportunity to make friends.
When freshmen enter UTokyo they go to “class camp” before classes start. In this class camp, upperclassmen take freshmen to a camp for two days. Typically, freshmen introduce themselves, play sports and have a barbecue to get to know their classmates. At night, upperclassmen help freshmen choose their courses. Since students do not have much freedom to make their own curriculum in Japanese high school, the course registration system in UTokyo can be complicated and challenging for freshmen. Upperclassmen can help freshmen to go through the system.
As the semester starts, class community becomes even more important because freshmen and sophomores take almost all of the mandatory classes together with their classmates. When students have trouble understanding the lecture or miss the class, they often rely on their classmates. Students interact with their classmates outside class too. For example, at the May Festival, each class makes their own food stand. At the end of the semester, they have parties to celebrate the end of exams.
The class community takes up a huge part of our life in UTokyo. If you are a prospective student, one thing you should know about class culture is that each class has a different atmosphere depending on the third language. Class atmosphere can be one of the factors to consider when you choose your third language. To help you decide on which language to choose, I did a survey about the impression students have about other students from each language class.
In my survey, subjects were asked to choose the language class whose students are most diligent, intelligent, active, fashionable and unique. Here are the results from 93 responses.
Most diligent: German (78.5%), Chinese (12.9%), Russian(4.3%), French(2.2%)
Most intelligent: French(30.4%), Chinese (27.2%), German(22.8%), Russian(18.5%)
Most active: Spanish(82.6%), French(8.7%), Russian(4.3%), Italian(2.2%)
Most fashionable: French(68.8%), Spanish(16.1%), Italian(8.6%), Russian(4.3%)
Most unique: Russian(81.7%), French, German, Korean, Italian, Chinese(3.2%)
Except for most intelligent, particular languages have a dominant vote on each categories. According to students’ impressions, German classes are thought to be the most diligent, Spanish classes to be overwhelmingly active, French classes are the most fashionable and Russian classes stand out in their uniqueness. It seems that students’ characters match the image of each country that the language comes from. Germany is known for its industry and the people are thought to be hardworking. France are known for its art and fashion, and Spain are known as “ the country of passion” in Japan. However, Russian classes being unique do not really match the image of the country. We do not know why but it seems that majority of people think that Russian classes are unique.
At Todai, class culture means a lot to students’ university life. Each language allegedly has different atmosphere in the class. It might be wise to take this into consideration when you choose your third language.