Universities in Japan operate a bit differently on the technical side of things than universities in America. For example, while in America universities tend to have classes at a plethora of different times Japan has a set period system of 1 hour and 30 minutes for each class at specific times everyday that never change. There is also a difference in the way credits are handled, in America credits are given to you based upon the amount of time you spend in each class. In Japan it just depends on what class you are taking. I prefer the American credit “hours” system but I like Japan’s period system which elimates the unfortunate headache of trying to perfectly plan all your classes and create a decent schedule in America.
Technical aspects aside, I’m quite enjoying my life at NIU so far. Most days I wake up at 7am and relax a bit before starting my morning routine of getting up, taking a shower, brushing my teeth, etc. Before hopping on my bike and riding to the university. By bike you can get there in about 10 minutes and I really like the aspect of getting 20 minutes of bike pedaling excercise each day. Once I arrive I either head to my first class of the day or stop by the Kokusai mart for a Grapefruit juice and a sandwich.
Once classes begin the day becomes a bit more standard and just consists of going through the classes until lunch time. Once it reaches lunchtime there are about three different ways my day could go. Some days I have scheduled times that my partners, Nanami and Sakura, will help me study Japanese during lunch, other days I just eat lunch with my friends from America and maybe some other friends I’ve made in the university, and the only other scenario is Wednesday’s when I normally help out the staff at NIU by generously eating lunch with the first year Japanese students to let them practice their English skills.
After lunch the day returns to normal classes until we finish for that day. Once I am done with classes there are a few ways my day could go from there. I could end up going to town, hanging out at the school, or heading back to my dorm at Mg. All of these prospective options are enticing but I’m hoping that as I make more friends I’ll create more and more reasons to avoid just heading back to my dorm. Recently after school we’ve started to hang out in the learning commons room above the cafeteria to either talk or just study because it’s a fairly decent space to relax.
That’s essentially the average day for me in Japan so far. I’m really enjoying being able to immerse myself in another for the first time. The small cultural differences aren’t ever really so much a bother for me as they are an interest. I’m really enjoying just being able to observe the world around and the tiny or big differences in the way people live here versus 7,500 miles away where I lived in America. I have a very positive outlook on the rest of this semester going forwards and I can almost guarantee myself this will be one of the most memorable experiences I ever have. Even if when I graduate I do immediately return to Japan. For me this is one of the greatest opportunities I’ve ever made for myself and I’m really trying to ensure when I look back on my time here when I first visited Japan that I really feel like I used my time wisely and did as much as possibly could.