Western Carolina University
ENGR 365 Global Engineering and Technology (P6 ULP)
+ HIST 308 Explorations of Regional History: Japan (P3 ULP)
5/16 – 6/1, 2023
A Faculty-led Trip to Japan in 2023
Also in collaboration with JPN 493 Special Topics in Japanese
6 Credits to Ensure Your Eligibility for Financial Aid (Including Pell Program and/or Loans)
Open to all WCU students
Led by Dr. Yanjun Yan and Dr. Gael Graham
The entire class will travel together and share activities to achieve the student learning outcomes of both ENGR 365 and HIST 308. ENGR 365 is a P6 World-Culture Category Upper-Level Perspective course, while HIST 308 is a P3 History Category Upper-Level Perspective course. By registering for 6 credits in summer 2023, you are eligible for financial aid, and get 6 credits towards your graduation (talk to Dr. Yan, Dr. Graham, and/or your program director for details). The students from various programs will gain rare opportunities to practice interdisciplinary collaborations.
The two travel courses on this trip include destinations in Tokyo, Nagoya, Hiroshima, Osaka, Kyoto, Nara, etc. across various parts of Japan, and from metropolitan cities to historical towns. The class will visit companies, manufacturing sites, museums, historical sites, and cultural sites in Japan.
The ENGR 365 course will encourage students to experience Japanese culture and appreciate its influence on engineering and technology practices in Japan within the global context.
Take two travel courses from WCU on the same Japan trip
Enjoy the world as your classroom!
Meet engineers and students in Japan
Experience Japanese culture
Advance in your career
Open to opportunities yet to be revealed
Earn 3+3 credits on one trip
Broaden your horizons
Be one of the few students who study abroad!
The itinerary is the latest plan representative of our intentions and is still under development. The listed hosts have agreed to meet with the class, but their availability in 2023 may change and we may change our schedule to accommodate their availability or even switch speakers. We may also move things around depending on the situation. Think of this as an idea of what the trip will look like, and the itinerary will be continuously updated when the plans are firmed up.
Disclaimer: The budget below is a good-faith estimate of the costs incurred during the travel courses of ENGR 365 & HIST 308. The items can change (to be only lower than the estimate, never higher) as actual costs become known. We have given our best estimate, and we will do whatever we can to minimize the costs while maximizing your experience.
Note: If you qualify, these costs (both the part you pay to WCU at OneStop and the part you pay by yourself) are covered by financial aid (6 credits from WCU in summer makes you eligible for financial aid), and many students reported that they might spend about half of the allowance on meals to get good meals in Japan, and your total actual cost can be lower. Contact Mrs. Jennifer Thomas (Email her at email@example.com or go to the Financial Aid Office at Camp 104 M-F 8am-5pm) and review the financial aid procedure document for more info.
Please consider applying for the Gilman Scholarship, which has recently relaxed its trip duration requirement, so that you are eligible now. Please refer to the costs FAQ section for more details.
Note: WCU reserves the right to cancel or alter the course format or to change costs as situations require.
The fees collected by WCU will cover all lodgings, all program activities, local transportation to and from program activities, group meals in Japanese style as a cultural experience (the students will be responsible for other meals and they can choose what they like to eat), the share of instructor travel costs, campus administration fees, and mandatory travel health insurance.
If there are seven students on the trip, the fees collected by WCU are estimated below. If there are more than seven students joining the trip, the fees will be lowered.
|Ground Transportation in Japan (JR pass, train, bus, taxis)
|Tickets and Admissions
|WCU Administrative Fee
|Pay to WCU, if 7 students join the trip. If more students join, the cost will be lower.
The expenses that the students will pay out of pocket are listed below. These fees are included in the budget, which can be covered by financial aid. The actual expenses will depend on students’ choices.
|Airfare (from AVL or ATL)
|New passport, if you don't have one yet
|Pay by oneself
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I apply?
The application is located in the bottom section of Application, where there are two applications: The unofficial Qualtrics survey goes to Dr. Yan and Dr. Graham directly, which helps Dr. Yan and Dr. Graham to know your background immediately; the official Application goes to WCU Global Office, which is required for your admission into this travel course. A short interview will be arranged after Dr. Yan and Dr. Graham get your unofficial application and you will be informed soon whether you can join this course or not.
When are the trip applications due?
The application is due on Feb 1.
However, the estimated costs are based on the early booking (buying a flight ticket and booking the lodging, etc.), and the later it goes, the higher the costs will be. Meanwhile, booking flight tickets and train tickets requires your passport number. If you want to join this course, you need to get your passport ready by then.
You are highly encouraged to talk to Dr. Yan and Dr. Graham in person to make a decision on whether you can/want to join the travel course as soon as possible and then apply early.
Is there an application fee to join this travel course?
No. Application is free. Still, apply for this course only if you really plan to go.
When will we hear back if we are selected to go on the study abroad trip?
Dr. Yan and Dr. Graham will review the applications and may invite students for a short interview. Following the interview, students will be notified about whether they are accepted to the course or not.
Is this class only for engineering and technology majors? Or only for history majors?
Definitely not. This class is open to all students interested in learning more about other cultures. Both ENGR 365 and HIST 308 are perspective courses (P6 and P3, respectively) and they are open to all WCU students.
Engineering and technology are ubiquitous in our daily lives, and their accelerated development in the last decade makes them even more relevant to everyone now than ever.
The history is what shapes our present lives, and we are making history.
How many students get to go and how are they selected?
A single course is generally capped at 10 students, who are chosen through an application process that includes academic criteria, a student questionnaire, and an interview with the primary instructor. Since there are two courses on this trip, we estimate a cap of 16 students to make our travel manageable. Note that the proposed budget is based on 7 students in total. When there are more students, the budget per student will be lower.
Can I still take this class if...
Can I still take this class if I don’t go to WCU, if I’m graduating in May, or if I graduated already?
Yes, you can. You just need to apply to WCU as a “transient student,” and there used to be a $50 charge to the Admissions Office to do that (Please contact the admission office for the latest application fee). For more details, see the Admissions Office’s information about transient students. For WCU grads, your 92 number will basically be reauthorized for the summer session and you’ll be registered/billed for the course just like anyone else. For non-WCU students, the process is a little more involved, but it’s mostly just paperwork.
Detailed instructions for May graduates:
- As long as the student is truly finished with all degree requirements as outlined on the degree evaluation in the spring term, they will be eligible to graduate in the spring term (May) regardless of their summer plans.
- A student’s record does not stay active after graduation but can be reactivated as undeclared if the student or faculty member e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. This allows students to continue taking courses after their degree has been awarded.
- All courses taken at WCU will display on a student’s transcript whether they were needed for a degree program or not.
- Taking courses after graduation does not impact a student’s graduation record in any way, but will impact the student’s cumulative WCU GPA.
- If the student purposely leave a course to take in summer instead, they will not be eligible for spring conferral and cannot participate in the spring commencement ceremony. All summer (August) graduates are invited to participate in the following fall (December) commencement ceremony.
Detailed instructions for students at other institutions:
- Transient students can apply to WCU via a non-degree application, and the application fee is waived for 2023 applications.
- Further instructions and the full requirements, as well as some of the terms and conditions in general of being a transient student, are available on the Non-Degree Transient Admissions website https://www.wcu.edu/apply/non-degree-undergraduate/transient.aspx
- Please submit it as early as possible, as the approval process takes time, and the deposit deadline is Feb 1, 2023.
Costs and Financial Aid (Pre-Trip)
I have a question about financial aid. Who do I contact?
Contact Mrs. Jennifer Thomas in the student financial aid office
Email: email@example.com be sure to email from your Catamount email and include your 92 number
In person: Stop by the financial aid office at Camp 104 and ask for Mrs. Thomas
You can also review the Financial Aid procedures document to get more info
Are there scholarships available to help pay for the trip?
Potentially there are some study-abroad scholarships from multiple organizations, but at this moment there is no such scholarship (free-money) from WCU. One option is to check with WCU’s Office of International Programs Services (IPS). They have a list of common scholarships for which students may qualify.
- The Gilman Scholarship no longer has a timeframe requirement. Mrs. Jennifer Thomas would definitely encourage any of you who receive Pell Grant to apply. The Global Engagement Office must not have updated their website when this changed. She is actually a reviewer for Gilman and just read a bunch of applications from students with short trips.
You need to write two essays and plan a service project to share information about the Gilman Scholarship when you return from the trip but it’s absolutely worth it. WCU typically had about 3 recipients each year when the trip length needed to be 6 months or more. Now that this scholarship has removed the trip length requirement, you can apply.
These are the eligibility requirements:
• A citizen or national of the United States;
• An undergraduate student in good standing at an accredited institution of higher education in the United States (including both two-year and four-year institutions);
• Receiving a Federal Pell Grant during the time of application or provide proof that they will be receiving a Pell Grant during the term of their study abroad program or internship;
• In the process of applying to, or accepted to, a credit-bearing study abroad or internship program. Proof of program acceptance is required prior to award disbursement;
• Applying for credit-bearing study abroad programs in a country or area with an overall Travel Advisory Level 1 or 2, according to the U.S. Department of State’s Travel Advisory System, or is on the list of approved Travel Advisory Level 3 countries/areas. However, certain locations within these countries or areas may be designated within the Travel Advisory as either “Do not travel to” (Level 4) or “Reconsider travel to” (Level 3) locations, as such; students will not be allowed to travel to these specific locations.
You won’t know if you are awarded this grant when you need to make a decision to commit to the trip on Feb 1, 2023 though.
Award amounts range from $100 to $5000. Financial need is based on the study abroad expenses provided by the applicant’s advisor and additional financial aid information submitted through the application. A Gilman Scholar’s final award amount will be determined by financial need, program length, overall program costs and the strength of the application during the selection panel recommendation process.
- If you are an honors college student, you may be eligible for a new scholarship established by a donor couple:
When are payments due?
After the official application deadline on February 1, a $500 non-refundable deposit is required by February 1. All remaining travel costs are due by mid-March (unless covered by financial aid; Financial aid payments are made 9 days before trip departure).
Is there a payment plan or do I pay all of the money upfront?
Details will be provided once the number of students is set. For money going directly to WCU, you will pay $500 by February 15 and the balance by mid-March. The airplane tickets will likely be bought in late February or early March. Your food money won’t be spent until you’re overseas.
How should I pay for the trip?
Both the deposit and the balance can be paid at the WCU Global Office’s website (https://www.wcu.edu/learn/office-of-international-programs-and-services/study-abroad/faculty-led-courses/index.aspx) directly with a credit card, which incurs 3% transaction fees, or you can pay at the WCU Global Office (Camp 109) in person without incurring the transaction fees.
What extra things will I need to budget for while traveling (e.g., food, gifts, etc.)?
The following are examples of items that have NOT been included in the budget:
- Gifts – buying souvenirs for yourself or for others
- Extra activities – what you do in your free time
- Excess food or drink – an allowance of certain amount per day is included in the budget for meals. This covers basic eating in chain restaurants, but if you’re going out to mid-level restaurants (or better), or ordering more expensive drinks during dinner, you’ll go over the budgeted amount quickly.
- Excess travel – The amount budgeted for travel will be enough to get you to/from all required activities. However, anything you do on your own time will need to be covered by you.
See the budget for a list of what is covered, which will help you determine what isn’t covered.
Does this course count toward liberal studies? As an upper level perspective?
ENGR 365 is a P6 (World Cultures) course in the liberal studies curriculum.
ENGR 365 counts as an upper level perspective (ULP) for non-E&T majors, such as history majors. For E&T majors (EE, ECET, BSE, ET), it only counts as a ULP if you’re double majoring in something else too, otherwise it does not count as an ULP.
HIST 308 is a P3 (History) course in the liberal studies curriculum.
HIST 308 counts as an upper level perspective (ULP) for non-history majors, such as E&T mjors. For history majors, it only counts as a ULP if you’re double majoring in something else too, otherwise it does not count as an ULP for history majors.
Since there are both courses on this trip, you will get 3 P6 credit, 3 P3 credit, and at least 3 ULP credit.
Where does this count for the E&T degree?
All the E&T degrees require a P6 course and a P3 course, and this trip provides both. You also get 3 credit ULP (from HIST 308 but not ENGR 365, since ENGR 365 is still in major for E&T students).
In the ENGR 365 / HIST 308 trip, for some E&T programs, the ENGR365 course could be counted as a technical elective, on a case-by-case basis. Please talk to Dr. Yan and your program director for details.
What are the course objectives?
The objectives of this ENGR 365 course are aligned with the objectives of the Liberal Studies Program at WCU, as shown below. Upon completion of this course, the students will be able to
- Gain factual knowledge about global engineering and technology practices. Collect, interpret and use information related to engineering and technology practices within local, national, and international contexts. Apprehend the impact of engineering and technology solutions in a global, economic, environmental, societal and global context.
- Reflect upon the principles, generalizations and theories of global engineering and technology practices beyond United States. Articulate the importance of cultural disparities and similarities when developing engineering practices. Understand and is committed to address professional and ethical responsibilities including a respect for diversity.
- Critically examine complex issues of a global nature in contemporary engineering and technology practices. Recognize contemporary issues. Understand the nature and importance of interrelationships and interdependence between and among individuals, countries, and regions.
- Identify, formulate, analyze, and solve broadly-defined engineering and technology problems. Apply knowledge of global engineering and technology practices to prepare project statements with clear project goals and objectives. Analyze project requirements to propose potential designs, determine the available resources, and apply practical constraints.
- Contribute as a member of a multidisciplinary team to create a project schedule and plan. Function on multidisciplinary teams effectively as a member or leader. Organize and participate in effective team meetings. Develop and document the solution to engineering design challenges as part of a team. Propose clearly-defined metrics to evaluate the performance of a solution.
- Communicate in an engineering environment through technical writing, verbal communication, and delivery of presentation. Develop organizational and communication skills that facilitate active involvement in, and contributions to projects in a wide variety of disciplines. Apply written, oral, and graphical communication in both technical and non-technical environments effectively; and identify and use appropriate technical literature.
Please read the syllabus to learn more about the assignments and grading for the course.
What kind of school work is involved before the trip?
Before the travel, the students will meet about once a month in spring on logistics, orientation, and some light lecturing. There will be reading (and related assignments) due before the travel so that students are prepared and will make the most of their time while traveling.
Please read the syllabus to learn more about the assignments and grading for the ENGR 365 course.
What will be required of us while on the trip?
During the trip, the students are required to actively participate in all visits and cultural activities, take notes and photos during each visit, respect themselves and others, follow schedules and directions, and work as a team.
Please read the syllabus to learn more about the expectations of students in ENGR 365 while on the trip.
What does the post-trip work entail?
After the travel, the students in ENGR 365 will do case studies on chosen topics and a report on the materials collected before and during the trip. A comprehensive final exam that integrates course contents, similar to early assignments in format, will be given in the end. The post-trip work is set to be due on Canvas near the end of July to give you enough time to finish, and your overall grades for this course will be determined in early Aug.
Please read the syllabus to learn more about what is required upon the completion of the travel.
How many credit hours will I receive for this class?
You will receive three (3) credit hours under the ENGR 365 course number, and another three (3) credit hours under the HIST 308 course number. So altogether, you get 6 credits.
The three credit hours of the ENGR 365 course are determined based on the contact hours and course contents. A student can not elect to receive zero or less than three credit hours by doing fewer or none of the coursework nor to receive more than three credit hours as there are no further coursework to warrant it. The same rule applies to HIST 308.
Are the credit hours too few?
The ENGR 365 course is for three credit hours. We understand the common concern that if a student wishes to be eligible for summer financial aid, s/he needs to register for at least six credit hours of WCU courses in summer. Having another 3-credit course, HIST 308, from WCU in our travel course proposal, you will then automatically be eligible for summer financial aid consideration. Also, HIST 308 is a very relevant course to understand Japanese culture, history and how it has been developing. Note that the actual amount of aid depends on your financial need situation and please contact the financial aid office to find out your specific situation.
Are the credit hours too many?
Question: With 3 credits from ENGR 365 in the P6 category, I plan to take more courses in P6 in the future or if I have already gotten some credits in P6, are there too many credit hours, especially in P6?
Answer: In terms of the P6 credits exceeding the required 3 credits for graduation, more credits will only show your interests and efforts on world culture without hurting your progress towards graduation or in any other way. Your experience will be shown in the course titles on the transcript, and employers typically are very interested in and appreciate such unusual courses.
The same answer applies to the P3 credits.
Will I need a passport and/or a visa?
Yes, you will need a passport. If you do not have a passport, apply for one at any post office. The cost is $165 altogether (https://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/passports/information/fees.html). Allow for 6-8 weeks . If you have a passport, make sure that it is valid until Nov, 16, 2023 (6 months from the day we leave USA). To get the best deal in flight ticket, you should have your passport ready in Jan.
With a US passport, you can enter Japan to stay for less than 90 days without a visa. If you hold other countries’ passport, please find out whether you need to apply for a Japanese temporary visit visa. You are free to use any agent. The service fees may differ at different agents, beyond the consular fee.
What do you recommend we pack? How much?
We’ll talk about it as we get closer to departure, but…
Whatever you do, pack lightly! Plan to take a carry-on and a backpack – no checked luggage.
- I can’t stress that enough (but I’ll try).
- The website One Bag is a good resource that goes into detail about one-bagging it for trips abroad.
- This YouTube video on bundle packing that shows how to get 16 garments into a carry-on.
- Scan through Lifehacker.com’s packing-related posts to get more tips. Some are geared more toward frequent business travelers (like this YouTube video, which is way beyond my packing abilities), but the tips still might be helpful.
How much cash should we have on hand while in Japan?
In Japan, Japanese Yen is the official currency that is traded with US Dollars. In the estimated budget plan, the student responsibility includes your own meals. Some extra spending money is also recommended. The credit card issued in US can be used at airports and may be accepted at the local stores in Japan. You can choose some credit cards that does not charge foreign transaction fees, which could be 3% for other typical credit cards.
Based on our past experience, the Tokyo Airport’s conversion rate is the best, better than the banks in the U.S., and you can bring some dollars to convert them to Yen at the Tokyo Airport. To convert Yen back to Dollars, there’s often a bit loss in the rate, so you may not want to convert too many dollars at once.
Will I need to convert money to have on hand while in Japan?
There are banks or kiosks to do the monetary conversion while in Japan. The kiosks at the Tokyo Airport provide a petty good rate.
Our students used to use some local companies in NC to convert the money with a small fee and if they don’t use up all the converted money, they can convert it back to USD after the trip without an extra fee.
Will we be flying as a group or by ourselves?
- We don’t include flight costs in the required payment to WCU OneStop because students may use frequent flyer miles, leave from a different city, or extend their travel after the course, etc. The flight ticket price is added in the budget, though, to give you an idea on the overall cost and allow it to be covered by financial aid.
- For the flight over, we will try to go as a group, even if it could be multiple smaller groups. Ideally, the class will meet and buy the flight tickets in person together so that all the concerns can be addressed in real time. In one year, we got a really good deal on the flight tickets that were three days early from our original plan and we switched the order of our destinations! This wouldn’t happen without a thorough discussion on all the options in the flights and itineraries. If some student cannot make it to the meeting, Dr. Yan will provide them with the flight numbers and the whole class should get to the Narita Airport in Tokyo, Japan around the same time. If you cannot fly with the group for some reason, talk to Dr. Yan and we’ll look at options on how to meet us there.
- For the flight home, students are encouraged to fly back to the US together. If some student decides to travel elsewhere before going home, the student is responsible for that independent travel after the course and WCU is not under any liability then.
How will the roommates be paired? / What will the living situation be like?
The lodging choices are made based on location, reviews and prices.
- You will be given the option to choose your roommate(s) ahead of time. Those who do not have roommates in mind will have ample opportunity to meet others taking the course during the spring semester and will be able to match up accordingly.
- In Japan, a double room means a room with a single queen size bed that sleeps two people, and we will use such rooms. A room with two beds are called a family room, which is too costly to be used for our course. When we visit universities, dorm rooms may be used, if available. Another option of lodging is the traditinoal rooms with Tatami mats and floors.
- No coed roommates are allowed.
What medical examinations/immunizations will I need before going?
None of the routine vaccines is required to join this travel course. To enter Japan, an updated COVID vaccination record may be required.
Please maintain your routine immunization, and you may also check out the Health Information for Travelers to Japan for more details.
What medicine for personal use can I bring to Japan?
Please follow the instructions at the following links:
https://jp.usembassy.gov/services/importing-medication/ (Some precriptions or over-the-counter medications in the U.S. are illegal in Japan, carrying them may cause one to be arrested, please do check out the list!)
Note that no product containing the designated pharmaceutical ingredients (see linked table) (57KB), which is sold in foreign countries/regions with
※This regulation comes into effect on January 1, 2019.
Regardless of the description above, you cannot bring prohibited drugs and controlled drugs into Japan.
Who are we going to be with in Japan?
The two courses (ENGR 365 and HIST 308) are in a single faculty-led travel course package with 6 credits, and the students will be enrolled into both courses automatically with 6 credits towards graduation and are eligible for financial aid.
There is another faculty-led travel course, JPN 493 Special Topics in Japanese, led by professor Soichiro Motohashi, that may share some activities with us in various cities.
We will not join tours that are rushed by a guide.
Should I use a phone in Japan?
Needless to say, owning a phone in Japan will be very useful and give us all the peace of mind. So, how can you use a phone in Japan?
1. If you activate the international roaming service of your cell phone, you can maintain your regular phone number. However, it can be expensive. Please contact your cell phone provider to understand the terms and rates.
2. If your phone uses a SIM card that can be taken out to put in a new SIM card, or if you have an unlocked phone that uses a SIM card, you may purchase a local SIM card at the airport or in town in Japan. There are SIM cards that can be used for a month with the certain amount of minutes, and you can purchase and load more minutes after that if needed. The local SIM card will give you a Japanese phone number. You and your family can purchase a calling card to call each other for several cents a minute.
3. If you do not want to activate your roaming service in Japan and your phone does not use a SIM card (for example, the SPRINT phone uses CDMA without a SIM card, and the prepaid phones typically don’t use SIM cards), you may purchase a second phone that is simple and inexpensive to use the local SIM card, only for voice-call or message purpose. Such a simple phone typically does not allow you to use apps, and please still bring your regular smart phone to Japan to use apps with WiFi.
If you decide not to use the cell phone service in Japan, please still bring your phone, as free WiFi is available sometimes, or the class may share a rental pocket wifi device for about $50 to connect up to 10 devices, so that you can get in touch with your family and friends using the social app while in Japan.
Also, please keep the phone numbers of the instructor and the contacts at activities (which will be provided when the activities are confirmed), in case you ever need to use a public phone to get in touch with us.
It is imperative that you fill the informal Qualtrics survey that goes to Dr. Yan and Dr. Graham directly, and the official application to WCU Global Office.
Step 1: Student questionnaire to the instructors
Click the link of this brief questionnaire to fill it online. It helps Dr. Yan and Dr. Graham learn more about you and your interest in the course. Once submitted, the data will go directly to Dr. Yan and Dr. Graham, and you will get a copy of your responses, too.
Step 2: Student application to WCU Global Office
The official application form required by WCU Global Office can be found at the link below:
Look for the big button “Faculty-Led Pre-Application Form SUBMIT TODAY” at the top-right
The information on this trip potentially required on application is provided below:
Course prefix, number, and name: ENGR 365 – Global Engineering and Technology & HIST 308 – Explorations of Regional History: Japan
Course destination (country, cities): Japan: Tokyo, Nagoya, Hiroshima, Osaka, Kyoto, Nara, etc.
Travel Dates (mm/dd/yy to mm/dd/yy): 05/16/2023 to 06/01/2023
Number of Days: 17 days
Leading instructors’ names: Dr. Yanjun Yan and Dr. Gael Graham
Leading instructors’ emails: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com
Note: In the space for your email address, use your @catamount.wcu.edu address. Also, do not leave the physician contact information section blank. If you have a regular physician, fill in their name, address, and phone. If you don’t have one, put in WCU Health Services at 828-227-7640.
Dr. Yan and Dr. Graham will review the applications and invite students for a short interview. Following the interview, students will be notified about whether they are accepted to the course. It is important to submit your applications as soon as possible. Of course, if you have any questions about filling out the forms, do not hesitate to contact Dr. Yan.
After Dr. Yan and Dr. Graham approve your application, then you can pay for the $500 deposit. If you pay it through the online platform, or by clicking the “Faculty-Led Deposit PAY NOW” big button on the WCU Globle website, there is a 3% or $15 fee, or $515 in total. All the courses are listed there, and please choose our courses (ENGR 365 + HIST 308) properly. You can avoid the $15 fee by paying the $500 deposit by cash or money order at their office in CAMP 109.
You may check out the student resources at the WCU Global Office website for further general information about studying-abroad: