As classes finally started, what surprised me the most was the university life. The reason to this being that to me it seems as university life in Japan is just an extension of high school routine. In America’s university system, class hour schedules are somewhat scrambled and every student sticks to their personal class schedule. In contrast, all classes in Ritsumeikan were by periods, where just like in highschool, a bell would ring to indicate when periods began and ended. I was really surprised by such as I had experienced this system in Puerto Rico and was not expecting a return to it. It is here that one could see how structured the university life was, which reflected the overall Japanese culture.
As such, another interesting phenomenon was the cafeteria. As lunch was at the same time for everyone, the cafeteria would get long lines but it would run rather quick. Unlike Florida where you had restaurants, fast foods, and a boufet in campus, Ritsumeikan’s cafeteria served different Japanese dishes. In such, you could find from ramen and Japanese styled curry to other meals like soups and fishes. If students wouldn’t get a ramen type of meal, a bowl of rice was definitely in the menu. I used to always get this dish called Sasami Chiizu Katsu. This was essentially a breaded chicken fillet that was filled with cheese inside and topped with tartar sauce. I would accompany this with a bowl of rice and the traditional Miso soup. Nonetheless, if students didn’t want cafeteria food there was a tent right beside it that sold traditional Japanese Bento boxes.
Furthermore, what was interesting during lunch time was that students would advertise the different clubs they were in. The way they would do it interested me as there was a leader who would shout some information regarding to the club and then a small group behind him would shout it out as well. This reminded me of my Boy Scout times as we would do these kinds of chants and as such I was very fond of these presentations. Sometimes they would even have a performance for the students during lunch time.
Lastly, something that I enjoyed that encompasses daily life in Japan was riding bicycle. Bicycles in Japan are a very common mode of transportation, to which one has to get it registered just like a car and the same rules for motor vehicles apply to bicycles as well. As I hadn’t ridden one for years, when I first rented one I actually had trouble riding it. Nonetheless, I got the hang of it pretty quick. It was then that it became a routine to bike from my dorm to the university. It was a short bike ride but I really enjoyed it as it was something unique that I would experience in Japan as part of the culture. Furthermore, the fact that I would always pass through Tojiin Temple also gave me a reminder of how lucky I was to be in Japan.