Lucia Carver: DJ Circle

I want to start off by saying that the CIP requirement is an excellent effort on the part of KCJS to ensure that students are being exposed to friends and social situations outside of the KCJS environment. It is absolutely crucial that all study abroad students get out of their comfort zone and leave the safety of other English-speakers and events planned by KCJS; in fact I would say that this is by far the most rewarding part of studying abroad. Knowing that you were able to make friends and contribute something not as a study abroad student but as a valued member of a club or such is an incredibly satisfying feeling.

I joined the DJ circle over at Ritsumeikan, a neighboring university, as I had a difficult time finding contact information for Doshisha’s DJ circle. My experience there reminds me quite strongly of my experience in the volleyball club at a Japanese girl’s high school when I studied abroad in Osaka during my junior year of high school. That is to say, there was a lot of frustration involved.  Despite pledging to be a member of the club, it was apparent that I wasn’t receiving all of the appropriate information; one time when I went to our regular practice space at the normal time, no one was there. I later asked one of the circle members whom I had added on Facebook where everyone had been, and he informed me that practice had been canceled. I had received no notice.

This made me feel as if I was being treated as less than a full member, which needless to say was quite a frustrating experience. I wanted to participate as fully as possibly but without the necessary communication about events and the like, I felt as if I was simply showing up for practice and that was about it.

However, whereas in America I would perhaps get angry and have a few words with the club president, I realized that it was unlikely the president realized this problem was even occurring. One of the responsibilities of being a study abroad student in Japan is that you must be as proactive as possible. If you feel that you are not being accepted fully into the group as a real member, nothing will change unless you take charge of it yourself and eliminate the problem. I am going to speak to the club president this week and reestablish what it is that I joined the club for, and to reach a level of understanding on both sides so that I can begin to feel like a full, contributing member.

These sort of cultural differences in communicating wants or in the way we make assumptions about another’s understanding of our feelings are difficult to grasp for all international students, but especially for Americans in Japan. We come from very different cultural contexts, and speaking as someone who as of now has lived in Japan for a total of 1 and a half years and studied the language and culture for many, I still struggle with these fundamental yet frustratingly subtle elements of communication. However, working through these frustrations and feeling glimmers of understanding are truly the most rewarding part of being immersed in a foreign culture.

2 thoughts on “Lucia Carver: DJ Circle

  1. I think you’re absolutely right; truly understanding another culture is a process. When you joined the DJ circle at Ritsumeikan, did you face any of the difficulties that you experienced with the volleyball club in high school?

  2. Yeah, it was pretty much the exact same experience. In high school, for some reason or other the school(which was very much a stickler for rules) said I wasn’t eligible to participate in actual games because I was a study abroad student(go figure). So essentially I attended all these practices and did all the same drills, but then never even got to play. Even at practice, as I wasn’t going to get to play, I never really was treated as a real player. But this time around I’m going to do my best to ensure that I eventually become an integral part of the team, so to speak.