Like Asian Culture? Come to Japan!

Just by seeing my name, you may know that I am a Chinese international student.

Like the other six thousand Chinese students at OSU, I took a leap of faith to fly to the United States three years ago and begin a new life. But two years later, I don't know when it started, all this began to become routine. My life was going to school, having classes, buying food, going home to do homework, cooking, and sleeping. That’s all.

I asked myself "Is this really what I want?"

It's with this motivation that I decided to join Fisher's Student Exchange Program, to push myself out of my comfort zone and go to Japan to figure out what I want.

The Main Building of Rikkyo University
The Main Building of Rikkyo University

Rikkyo University is the only designated partner school in Japan for this program. Unlike other traditional universities in Japan, it is a private Christian school established by an American missionary in 1874. (There is even an awesome church in one corner of the school.)

The school term in Japan is usually from September to February, so we need to apply for "Early Return" at Rikkyo and continue part of the courses after returning to OSU in January.

Short break during the flight
Short break during the flight...

After a three-hour flight, I left Shanghai and landed in Tokyo. Tokyo is an international city, you can find people from all over the world at the airport. The Immigration Office staff asked me some questions and gave me a "Residence Card" , which is equivalent to a Japanese ID.

After checking with Google maps, I took two suitcases and rode the "Sky Line" to Niporri Station, then took the tram to Ikebukuro.

Crowded train in Japan
電車 (Densha)

Compared to the United States, Uber is not popular in Japan, due to Labor shortages. Additionally, Japan's taxis are very expensive, so people generally take the "でんしゃ" (Densha), Japan's urban rail or subway, to go to school or work. (By the way, it's really really really crowded! :( )

Your new home is waiting for Decoration
Your new home is waiting for Decoration <3

The dormitory I live in is called "Global house", which is located in Shiki city and students who live here are from all over the world, who come to Japan on exchange programs. It took me about two hours to get from the airport to my dormitory.

The dormitory administrator who greeted me was an elderly man. We communicated with each other in English and Japanese, even though we were not very fluent. The room is about 10 square meters and there is a small refrigerator, bed, sink, table and chair, along with a small balcony. Toilets and bathrooms are outside. And students can chat and have dinner in the first floor living room.

Eating Ramen with one of my group members
Eating Ramen with one of my group members. We are also friends

The communication in the school and dormitory mainly is in English, however, if you have learned Japanese you can choose to take the Japanese test and choose Japanese courses.

Compared to OSU courses, I think the curriculum at the university is relatively easy but requires you to express yourself more. In class, the professor encouraged everyone to actively speak and exchange their own opinions with each other. Most of the courses I attended were required to end with a presentation and group project. For example, from September to December, I attended a total of 8 classes (1.5 credit hours for each OSU course) and made 10 presentations. For a normally shy student, this is a great opportunity to practice, as you need to learn how to work with people from different cultural backgrounds more effectively, which is a great exercise for your career later . One of the most impressive courses was a debate class taught by a sales manager at Kirin, a famous Japanese fast food company, who divided his class into groups and discussed social issues in Japan. For example, should the Japanese government encourage casino building or not?

The Lighting Ceremony in Rikkyo
The Lighting Ceremony in Rikkyo

The school will also hold a variety of activities. In addition to the welcome luncheon, there were outings with Japanese students, a French film appreciation conference, a taste of Chinese food event, a school festival and so on.  The most impressive activity for me was the "Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony". Around December 15th, everyone gathered together under the Christmas tree, held a candle and did a countdown for the lighting. Although this is an Asian country, it has a lot of western elements.  So I bet Japan is the best country to visit if you have never experienced Asian culture but want to!