Katrina Vizzini: Kyoto University International eXchange Society (KIXS)

When I began looking for a CIP, I really began it halfheartedly. Most of my interests that have the possibility to be a CIP lie in activities that are most often accomplished solitarily, leaving little room for cultural or language exchange. I toyed around with joining an art circle or a piano club, but honestly, I didn’t imagine that those clubs would lead to much socialisation. Thinking about what I do on a normal day to day basis, I realised that I usually just like to be around people, no matter what activity it is that we are doing. Acknowledging this, I joined KIXS over at the University of Kyoto.

As detailed in my previous post, KIXS meets for dinner at Renais (ルネ), the cafeteria, once a week to eat dinner together and socialise. KIXS couldn’t be a better fit for me. Through KIXS I’ve been able to meet and make friends with people not just from Japan, but from all over the world. I’ve yet to meet everyone yet as KIXS is a rather large circle having over 50 members I believe, but how involved you are is entirely dependent on you. Keeping this in mind, I have tried to help out and be “part of the group” as much as possible. It is a bit difficult, as the circle is based at the University of Kyoto, so there are sometimes that I cannot participate in events, but I try my best to do so anyways. For example, KIXS has sold food at two events since I began attending meetings. At both events, I have helped sell the food, asking passers-by in rather formal speech if they’d like to buy a churro or a moffle (a sweet rice flour waffle). The Japanese people passing by seem to take more notice at this foreigner speaking Japanese to them than they do at the Japanese students dressed up like anime characters or cross dressing. Through this, I got quite a few people to stop and purchase churros and moffles, including completing a to-go order where I got a chance to use even more specialised formal language.

While I can’t say I feel like a “true” member of the group (I still get special foreigner discounts at the party gatherings), I can say that through KIXS I’ve gotten to know a lot of Japanese students and students from other countries pretty well and can definitely see some of these friendships continuing after the semester ends. I feel at ease at KIXS and appreciate the fact that the requirement of the CIP means I was “forced” to put my shy foot forward and get out meeting people. I enjoy hanging out with everyone and sharing our different thoughts, worries, cultures, and of course senses of humour. Can’t wait for the next meeting!

6 thoughts on “Katrina Vizzini: Kyoto University International eXchange Society (KIXS)

  1. Thats great that you’ve been able to use more formal Japanese during KIXS events. I can’t imagine trying to do a to-go order entirely in Japanese. Are the internationals you’ve met mostly full-time students at Kyodai?

    • Yeah, it’s been fun! The international students are almost all full-time students at Kyodai. There are a few (2-4) that are part of some program over there and are here for a year and taking classes in English, but everyone else is a normal student. Kind of sad though, cause that means alot of the international students will be leaving in February. 🙁

  2. Wooot, sounds like your CIP has been a success. 🙂

    I know a lot of the KCJS kids have had some sort of interaction with KIXS, but I’m sure that the experience is very different from attending KIXS meetings weekly and actually getting to know the members. (I think it’s especially cool that you can meet people from all over the world!)

    KIXS seems like a relatively lax circle that is inherently internationally-minded, but what did you think of your cultural interactions with other members? Did they seem very “Japanese”? I’m also curious as to the extent that members from other countries tried to conform to Japanese standards.

    • I dunno about whether they seemed very “Japanese”. There were obviously some very westernized students who had nearly flawless Japanese, but I figure that because it is such a relaxed club, and, outside of joking situations, nobody seems to raise their sempai up on pedestals, we get to see alot of peoples’ real personalities. And in KIXS, everyone’s a little goofy and strange. In a very good way. I can’t really say that KIXS members seem “Japanese” or “American” they just are all really interesting unique individuals with their own take on the world.
      As a result of this, I don’t think anyone tried to conform to Japanese standards. One of the common topics of discussion is our Australian friend and whether some of his customs are “western” or “Australian”. More often than not, it’s Australian. People just share their personal culture and their own individuality and don’t worry about the sempai-kouhai rules or other more “Japanese” circle rules.

  3. I`m really glad Nate convinced me to go to a couple of the KIXS dinners- I was pretty sleepy and didn`t think I would want to carry on a conversation with a lot of new people, but like you say, the atmosphere was extremely welcoming and easy going. Naturally the conversation topics I can handle in Japanese are pretty menial compared to what I usually talk about in English, but somehow the time I spent at KIXS was just as comforting and satisfying as dinner with friends back at Cornell.

    • I’m glad you decided to come too! It’s nice and relaxing! Sometimes I have so much work and the week’s been so stressful that I try to talk myself out of going, trading in those hours for some much desired sleep, but I go, and I don’t think I’ve ever regretted it. It’s so nice and homey!