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### Immerse in Japan: Students Embrace Language and Culture in Study Abroad Program

Rock Island, Ill. (KWQC) – Japanese culture has had a significant influence on Americans in recent years, impacting various aspects of daily life such as culinary preferences and a growing fascination with language acquisition.

The cultural exchange between Japan and the United States is evident in the widespread embrace of Japanese cuisine like sushi and ramen, as well as the increasing popularity of Japanese anime.

A recent study highlighted the surging interest in learning Japanese in Iowa, positioning it as the most sought-after Asian language in the state. Kendall Heitzman, Ph.D., an Associate Professor specializing in Japanese literature and culture at the University of Iowa, elaborated on the driving forces behind this trend.

The study also revealed Korean as the second most preferred language after Japanese, with Mandarin closely trailing in third place.

On the Illinois front, Augustana College offers a unique Japanese language program that extends beyond conventional classroom instruction. Steven Duke, the Director of International and Off-Campus Programs at Augustana College, emphasized the pivotal role of experiential learning through study-abroad opportunities in understanding the essence of Japanese culture.

Students at Augustana College often utilize the $2,000 provided through ‘Augie Choice’ to fund their travel expenses during study-abroad programs. Recently, 33 students engaged in a three-week immersive learning experience in Japan, gaining firsthand insights into Japanese culture through faculty-led courses.

Since 2013, Augustana College has witnessed a growing enthusiasm for Japanese language and culture, with 315 students participating in Japan programs. Students view these programs not just as academic courses but as transformative cultural journeys that broaden their perspectives and create lasting memories.

The influence of Japanese media, particularly anime and manga, has played a pivotal role in popularizing the Japanese language and culture among the younger generation. The allure of pop culture elements like Kpop, Jpop music, anime, and manga has captivated students, fostering a deeper appreciation for Japanese traditions and history.

Beyond language acquisition, the impact of Japanese culture extends to unconventional domains like tattoo artistry, where a Moline tattoo artist has introduced promotions for manga and anime-themed tattoos to cater to the rising demand among youth.

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