Category Archives: Honors College

Japan: An ‘inexhaustible variety of life’

By Josh Butler, a junior EC Scholar

Butler JapanStudying abroad in Tokyo, Japan, and the surrounding areas was an experience second to none that involved cultural immersion coupled with intellectual stimulation. Few places demonstrate values directly opposite to that of the United States like Japan, and experiencing these differences allows one to better understand the society he/she originates from and to view the United States from a foreigner’s perspective. Individualism versus collectivism; human rights versus rights of the collective whole; the person’s demand for respect versus a self-effacing respect for the other person; confrontation versus meekness; admittance versus ostracism. Juxtaposed standards such as these portray the differences between the United States and Japan respectively. Saying that experiencing these things profoundly increased my understanding of cross-cultural human nature would be a gross understatement.

Japanese foodI went to Japan entirely open-minded; however, I continuously found myself surprised at each restaurant, turn of the block, or bend in the path. Describing each surprise would take far too long for the purpose of a blog and simply not do the experience justice, so I will attempt a few. To begin with, convenience stores brought a whole new meaning to the word convenience. Instead of merely carrying an assortment of snacks, drinks, and simple essentials for the road, the common 711 or Family Mart convenience store in Japan was also full to the brim with fresh meals ranging from sandwiches to meats and bread. I often found myself in one of these stores to stock up on food for the guest house, grabbing a quick meal before our next excursion, or withdrawing cash from its ATM.

Tokyo cityMany people tend to look at a picture of Tokyo and liken it to New York City. Even though the skyscrapers are similar, the size of Tokyo, the biggest city in population density in the world that sports more places to eat than any other city, is simply too large to compare to its New York counterpart. Tokyo is also much cleaner, partly due to the lack of trash cans, subsequent reduction of trash quantity, and the taboo of eating while walking throughout the city. Trash is also separated between burnable items and plastics, reducing the necessity of landfills, unlike US practices.

Some restaurants feature a vending machine-like way of ordering. On the machine are pictures of meals (which are not photo shopped, like almost every menu in the US) and prices. After inserting some coins or a paper bill and choosing a meal, a ticket spiJapan- hikingts out, and the customer then passes it on to the cook. Pitchers of water are typically left on the table so you can refill the small glass as needed. Also, a waiter or waitress will only stop by your table if and when you call for their attention. From what I could discern, this is because meals are considered a private affair that are not to be interrupted unless the waiter/waitress is needed by the customer. I often forgot about this and waited at the table with friends, waiting for the waiter, when in fact the waiter was waiting for us.

Food portions are generally much smaller than in the US, and a typical meal consists mostly of noodles or rice, vegetables, and a small portion of meat (usually fish or pork). In addition, there are numerous American fast food restaurants, such as Carl Jr.’s, McDonalds, and KFC, in Japan. These restaurants demonstrate how Japan has been gradually westernized, influencing not only eating habits but choice of clothing and music as well.

Japan is a mesmerizing conjunction of the traditional and contemporary, the old and the new, the natural beauty of mountains and its wild monkeys and the adjacent concrete jungle of skyscrapers and modern wonders. These first-hand experiences have allowed me to see the United States from a fresh perspective and better comprehend what F. Scott Fitzgerald described as the “inexhaustible variety of life.”


Traveling to the Land of the Rising Sun

By Patrick Twisdale, senior EC Scholar

Patrick-JapanThe Land of the Rising Sun, Japan, or as the Japanese call it Nihon (日本国), was the country that I went to for a study abroad over the summer. A group of us flew there on June 3rd and then departed on June 27th. The trip was guided by Dr. Daniel Goldberg of the Honors College and Brody School of Medicine, who instructed us in Bioethics and in a Healthcare Comparison of the United States and Japanese healthcare systems. For most of the trip, we stayed in an apartment in Tokyo, in between the Akihabara and Ueno districts, but we also took trips to Nikko, Hakone, and Kyoto.

Let me go on record to state that it was a truly invigorating experience. Absolutely, hands down one of the best experiences I have ever had in my life. Everything I had ever fantasied about Japan was true and more…from the wild monkeys of Nikko, to the hot springs of Hakone, to the temples of Kyoto, and to the bustling metros beneath Tokyo. This trip was absolutely fantastic!

Everyone seemed to be friendly and welcoming no matter where I traveled in Japan. On the first night of our Tokyo adventure, my fellow travelers and I explored the Ueno district’s restaurants looking for dinner. We stumbled upon a random Ramen shop, where we experienced our first taste of true Japanese ‘cuisine’ and etiquette. In these ramen shops, instead of a waitress or waiter questioning us about our order, we had to operate a vending machine that would dispense a slip for us to hand to the chef. Of course, having never seen one like it, we had absolutely no idea what to do. In hindsight, it was pretty obvious, however, we were unaccustomed to the procedure. The ramen that night was delicious and nothing like the ramen you find in the states.

Group-JapanAlong with daily classes, we also had a total of seven academic visits while we stayed in Japan. These included lectures at the University of Tsukuba, visits to multiple historical and medical museums, and the opportunity to conduct presentations on bioethical issues at The University of Tokyo. Our class split up into three groups and presented at The University of Tokyo to various professors, doctors, and graduate students on issues such as ‘Placebo Usage’, ‘Brain Death’, and ‘Euthanasia’. Our presentations were well received by the staff and we all received diversified input from these professionals in Japan. It was truly an exciting experience.

To wrap up, Japan was the perfect place to go to for a study abroad. I am forever thankful that I received the chance to travel abroad to the Land of the Rising Sun. Thank you Honors College for allowing this trip to happen. I am eternally grateful.

Reflections on Studying Abroad in London

By Meghan Lower, sophomore EC Scholar

Lower-London“No, Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.” – Samuel Johnson

In preparation for my study abroad trip, I had no indication of what the United Kingdom would be like, or any other country for that matter. I had never traveled off of the east coast before, nonetheless the United States. I visited the great city of London for two weeks to study public health. The main aim of the course was to learn about the United Kingdom’s healthcare delivery system so that it then could be analyzed and compared to that of the United States. While in London, we met with multiple organizations such as Public Health England and the World Health Organization Collaborating Centre11 to hear about the ways of operations for their public health system.

LondonThroughout my trip, I learned a lot about the healthcare system in the United Kingdom, better known as the National Health Service (NHS). There are many aspects of the NHS that differ from the healthcare system here in the United States, with the biggest difference being in the funding of the program. The NHS is funded by money received from an income tax that is implemented on the whole population; there are two different tax brackets for the income tax depending on the amount an individual makes. In return, the majority of healthcare services are free to all people, with only a few exceptions. Hearing the basis of their system was simply astonishing; this system is the epitome of what some people here in the United States are trying to avoid, but instead it works almost seamlessly in the United Kingdom.

London3During the time that I was in London, there was a lot of public news and campaigning in regards to the referendum for the United Kingdom to leave the European Union, or better known as “Brexit.” I received a unique perspective on the United Kingdom by seeing both sides of the referendum and how staying or leaving would affect the country. The referendum affected virtually every aspect of the United Kingdom, including government, healthcare, and trade.

Aside from learning about the healthcare system of the United Kingdom, the other half of our course was to learn about the British people and culture by visiting historical and cultural sites in London and nearby cities. I was able to do so much while in London, ranging from tours of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre and the Chelsea soccer stadium to the Queen’s 90th birthday parade at Buckingham Palace. I also was able to visit the Prime Meridian in Greenwich where I was able to stand in two hemispheres at once.

I am beyond grateful for this opportunity that was given to me by East Carolina University and the EC Scholars program; it was truly a trip of a lifetime!


‘Imagine This:’ Experiential Learning in Nepal

By Nadiya Yerich, junior EC Scholar

Yerich in NepalImagine this: you’re in the ER of one of the best hospitals in Nepal, watching physicians attempt to care for a woman who was just attacked by a rhinoceros. She has a gaping hole in her chest and lacerations all over her body, particularly her arms and legs. The saline they hooked up to her flows out of every laceration on her body since they only stapled her wounds together. She does not have anesthesia, because she does not have family nearby to buy it for her. Medical and nursing students, and even random bystanders, are taking pictures of her. Within hours, she passes away due to lack of proper medical care. She was never sent to the OR, and she never received a blood transfusion. Sadly, this is not a unique case in Nepal. Throughout my month-long medical internship in Nepal through Projects Abroad, I got to see the effects of living in a third world country manifest in hundreds of different cases at the Chitwan Medical College.

13220880_1316804414999856_382906284005743192_nI had the opportunity to shadow physicians and nurses in the emergency department, operating theatre, orthopedic trauma ward, ICU, surgical ward, the ear nose throat (ENT) ward, tropical medicine ward, and even dentistry! The most interesting cases I saw included the rhino attack, a live birth, multiple cholecystectomies, an enormous bronchogenic carcinoma, and a woman who had burned a majority of her body with a kerosene lamp.

Human Services Shelter However, observing surgeries and medical procedures was not the only thing I did in Nepal. I also had the chance to go to the Human Services Center, which is practically a homeless shelter for the “untouchables” of the society. We got to play with the residents and do arts and crafts with them. On the weekends, I traveled to Chitwan National Park and the city of Pokhara with other Projects Abroad volunteers. The highlights were going on a 4-hour safari trek, riding an elephant through the jungle while watching for wildlife, sitting on an elephant while it bathed itself in a river, watching lakeside sunsets, going paragliding, and sipping on the biggest and most incredible oreo milkshakes this earth has to offer!
What I really loved about this trip is that it allowed me to  what I am studying at ECU – public health and religion. I was able to organize and lead a public health session on the importance of hand hygiene, and coughing/sneezing into your elbow to fourth graders at a local school. I also got to see temples like the Monkey Temple in person, which I had just seen in my Buddhism textbook in the spring!

This trip would not have been able to happen without the help of Dr. Todd Fraley and Ms. Whitney Morris at the International House who worked with me for almost half a year to figure out the logistics! I am also incredibly grateful for the study abroad scholarship I received from the foundation I owe my college education to: The Harold H. Bate Foundation.

I am very open to talking with anyone who would like to do something similar to this medical internship, or travel in general! Namaste.

men reading in NepalelephantsYerich on elephant

The HOSA Experience

By: Thao Kim Pham, Honors College Sophomore

Kim HOSAWhat was once music has now become a cacophony as it mixes with the sounds of horns and traffic. The 10-hour drive proved to be more arduous than we bargained for. Upon arrival at our hotel we were fortunate to be able to enter the doors to our domain to rest our weary heads. We slept. And we continued to sleep. At this point food was a mere barbaric instinct stirring us to wake from our deep slumber. If there was anything that could salvage this trip it would be the HOSA experience. The HOSA International Leadership Conference was held in Nashville, Tennessee from June 21–26.

After immersing myself in HOSA – Future Health Professionals for five years, I knew that there would be more to our trip than the long drive. The days ahead would engrave the HOSA experience deep upon my brain. The experience can best be described as synonymous with a buffet. While each entity can be enjoyed separately, a buffet tastes best when joined with others. The HOSA experience enables this by drawing unique backgrounds into one meeting place allowing for the interchange of culture. This enriching setting was amplified more so during my competitive event.

MrsWest_Me_2ndplaceEveryone enjoys winning, and at nationals this goes double. Here the best are gathered to do combat until one stands out amongst the rest. During my competitive event, a conglomerate of emotions filled my body. At the center of my soul, was doubt. Despite countless hours of studying and encouragement, the doubt within me grew restless as does a bee hive when provoked. While it may seem trivial to merely indicate A or B, when thrown into this predicament it becomes A or B or Y. “Y” as in “Why did I put A instead of B”. This doubt stabbed at me incessantly tugging at the corner of my mind until I fatigued my body and soul. By the end of the test I left the room to see the sparkling smiles of my friends. So what if I lost? I can still enjoy Tennessee with my friends. Or so I thought. Never in my wildest dreams would I think I would attain second place in my competitive event of Knowledge Test: Human Growth and Development. This is the HOSA experience where students crawl and battle their conscience for any place they can get.

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