To journey and explore is the fun of being in a new place. Although one would hope for some of the more ideal weather conditions. However when things do not go according to plan, those moments can be sometimes the more interesting parts of the human experience. One such experience I had went through happened during my recent excursion with my host university.
First and foremost though, I have to talk about my life in class. Last week I had just wrapped up my midterms and have now begun the phase of projects. Now although we do not have much homework, a lot of the weight of our grades go towards our papers and projects. Which is interesting since at my university we would have homework, but that would also help with the weight of our grade even though tests are still a big portion of the final grade. But if I had to be quite honest a big difference I have noticed is that at this university in particular a lot of the teachers tend to favor more collaborative style of teaching. Not to say that my home university does not do any type of group work, but it is not the extent that the classes in the university I am at does. For example, one of my teachers tries to get everyone to mingle with each other through randomly assigning groups everyday for discussion. I assume it is because he wants to give the domestic students the opportunity to talk with the international students. Although sometimes it can be rather difficult due to the difference in language proficiency. And while that may be great for some people, I on the other hand, do not work best in this style of learning. But that has come with the experience of learning to grow and adapt to the learning environment that is being thrown in my direction.
Now with that out of the way it is time I discuss about my excursion. See a few weeks ago I had signed up to take part in the overnight trip to Nara and Osaka that the school had planned. Everything seemed as though it was going to go according to plan. Like I had everything packed and ready to go, but there was one thing that no one could have predicted when first signing up. Last week we were all notified that there was going to be a passing typhoon that would not hit Japan, but would bring a massive amount of rain. And needless to say those forecast were not lying. Although at least with this rain storm I was prepared with an umbrella unlike the last trip.
Originally on the first day in Nara we were supposed to go to a temple, but due to the levels of rain the temple was closed so the teachers improvised and decided that instead of the temple we would go to a goldfish museum. While it may not have been what we had originally anticipated it still was a nice attraction and we were not in rain. After that we made it to the hotel where we had to quickly drop off our luggage and head straight for the next temple since the rain had calmed down a bit. There we saw these amazing statues and so many deer since there was a deer park very close by to the grounds of the temple. And after that we made our way back to put our luggage in our individual rooms (where it was the traditional tatami mat style so we needed to take off our shoes and make sure that we did not wet the floor) and wait for dinner. Dinner we enjoyed a traditional Japanese style meal with rice, sashimi, a meat dish, and grilled fish. While some people just went back to the room after dinner, others decided to go into the traditional onsen and that was the end of day one.
Next was day two when we were headed to Osaka and fortunately for us the rain had stopped. Once in Osaka we were given a brief little tour of the area before being released to do free time so long as we make it back to the bus at the designated time. There we were able to go to the famous street market and try delicious food like eel and takoyaki, go to the museum and learn about wood-printing (which I learned I am awful at), and check out the anime district of Osaka. Before we knew it was time to head back into the bus and head back to the dorms. Although there was a minor mishap. See throughout the excursion we were all warned that if we are not back at the meeting spot to get on the bus we would get left behind. Now we all did show up on time, but I could tell that most of us did not take these warnings too seriously. Well, the inevitable did happen in Osaka where a student was left behind because they did not make it to the stop in time to get on the bus. And it was in that moment I saw that punctuality can make a big difference and practicing time management can be practical for a situation such as that moment.
Overall though, my time here in Japan has been fruitful and has given me the opportunity to learn more about a culture that differs from my own. But, like with every experience, comes lessons I have learned along the way. So I would like to share with you some tips and tricks I have learned.
First, be prepared to be thrown outside of your comfort zone in class. While it is understandable to not want to take a risk in fear of embarrassment or the dislike of being uncomfortable, try not to be so concrete in staying in one position. Throughout your time abroad there are going to be things that will take you far beyond your limit of comfort. Like with me and collaborative style of learning. However, as long as you are not getting hurt I encourage you to attempt to venture outside your bubble while in the class. It may yield you some surprising results.
Second, check the weather reports before going out to do an activity. This one is self explanatory, but it is always best to hear a reminder for things that should be common sense. Sometimes we have too many thoughts in our heads to remember to do the smallest of things. So it is nice to have that little note to do the simple things just so that way you remember to actually do said task like checking the weather. Especially if you do not want to get your stuff ruined due to the rain and have to take a trip to the US embassy to attempt to fix the situation that you put yourself in for not preparing better for the rain. Trust me when I say that looming feeling of dread is not worth forgetting to check the weather reports.
And finally, set an alarm on your phone or if you are traveling with a group of friends designate the most responsible person to keep track of the time. If you do not want to find yourself in a situation of not making it to a designation on time make sure you have an alarm set on some type of device. However, I do also want to say do not set your alarm for the exact time you need to be at a place. I recommend setting it for about 30 minutes before the needed time. For example if you need to be back at the meeting spot at 2:00 p.m, set your alarm for about 1:30 p.m. That way you give yourself enough time to walk over without having to sprint in order to make it to the bus in time.
Hopefully these journals have been interesting to read through as they are to type out. And with that being said thank you for reading and I hope you join me in my next journal!