In 2019, UMF piloted a new First Year Fusion (FYF) program that combines First Year Seminar with a week-long pre-orientation Experiential Learning program for incoming students. During Fusion Week, students join an intellectual community that is closely mentored by faculty as they travel to various locations across Franklin County, the State of Maine, and this year even globally with a new Fusion program in Japan.

The Fusion program permits you to start college with a solid foundation, close report with a faculty mentor, and new friends, all of which are important to success in college. After Orientation, your Fusion course will resume with the rest of your Fall classes though the intensive Fusion Week permits your FYF course to finish mid-semester, giving you a chance to focus on fewer course during the crunch of the end of the term.

First Year Fusion classes are part of UMF’s Research Learning Experience (RLE) program designed to prepare students for academic success and future careers.

FYS 100 Japan Through Time and Space

Sarah Maline, Professor of Visual Arts

Course fee: $2,600 (or $1,600 with scholarship from the U.S. Department of Education)

Global Fusion Week (July 30 –  Aug 10, 2023): Tokyo, Akita, and Kyoto, Japan

Almost 400 years ago, the great poet-monk-traveler Matsuo Bashô wrote that “every day is a journey, and the journey itself is home.” Your UMF journey begins with a pre-semester trip that travels to and through many of the unique Japanese places and spaces Bashô encountered in his journeys.

Students visited Tokyo, the global city of light, movement and futuristic fantasy where they immersed themselves in Japanese culture, history and food. Participants then travelled to the far north of Japan’s Honshu island to explore Akita with students and faculty from Japanese partner Akita International University (AIU). While there, they experienced the Kantô Matsuri harvest festival, visited an active local farm, and met the legendary local Namahage demons who try to scare the laziness out of children and adults alike. Afterwards, participating students travelled to the ancient Japanese capital of Kyôto, exploring its narrow streets and temple paths to discover the places of old that still exist within this modern city. The trip ended with a ride on Japan’s famous bullet train back to Tokyo. Upon their return to UMF, they regrouped in the fall to continue their discussion with AIU through a Virtual Global Experience (VGE). 

Japanese-style building

During the trip, they built their own individual tabi nikki, or travel diaries, drawing inspiration from historical artworks, the diaries of historical Japanese travelers and personal experiences through writing, photography, drawing, painting, and video and sound recording. The group created a group diary to synthesize their experiences and share them with UMF and the surrounding community. They continued UMF’s partnership with Akita International University through a project-based Virtual Global Exchange (VGE). As a final research project with AIU students, participating UMF students analyzed how their expectations and memories of the visited places activate and/or alter the understanding of those places, and how places build and hold meaning through space and time.

For more information on global experiences, please contact:

Office of Experiential & Global Education
University of Maine at Farmington
106 Fusion Space
117 South Street
Farmington, Maine 04938