When I began the mountain climbing CIP, I was very excited for it. I tried to have some kind of contact every week but it just became very difficult, but right at that time, I was told about a language exchange meeting that took place every Friday at Doshisha, and I have since begun attending that.
Although it is a language exchange program, and most of the members are capable of English as well as Japanese, at the meetings Japanese is by far the more widely spoken language, which is of course preferable to me. I find I learn the most about the Japanese language and culture when the discussion gets away from the more heavily organized discussions and we are able to just talk freely amongst ourselves. Numerous conversations have been had about simple differences we find about American culture and Japanese culture – it was a funny surprise when comparing stereotypes that while Americans often think of the Japanese as short, the Japanese think of Americans as tall. What I am most often struck by is actually the amount of American and Western culture that has been adopted by the Japanese and that they use on a daily basis, both in terms of language and also culture. It is so strange to me that their culture has evolved in such a way that makes it feel foreign but also strangely similar at the same time.
I always also enjoy asking about specific parts of Japanese culture and being able to get answers from similar aged college students about daily life and the smaller aspects of culture that you don’t have the opportunity to learn about in school. These kind of discussions usually lead to comparisons, and it is always fun learning that neither of us know the other’s culture well, and often what either thought was very normal can actually be quite different in meaningful ways. However, in the end, I guess the old cliché is true about how really, as different as we are, we’re really all just alike.
I am excited to continue with this group next semester, as well as participate in the hiking club as often as possible, and continue to forge strong bonds with the people that I meet.