I really enjoyed my CIP during my time here in Japan. If the goal of having a CIP was to interact with Japanese people, then I definitely had a positive version of that. One of my favorite things about the volleyball circle that I joined is that the members range from beginners to advanced, so there is a lot of fun but not overly-serious competition. In this circle, everyone seemed to simply enjoy a few games of volleyball.
I do wish that I got to spend more time with them outside of practice. I did go to dinner with them once and it was really nice. It was funny because they all had bicycles so I had to ride on the back of someone’s bike. At first I tried with one of the other girls but she couldn’t balance very well so I had to ride on the back of one of the guy’s bike. It made for awkward conversation but it was an interesting and unique experience. I remember thinking to myself “haha, I don’t think very many people get that experience here”.
I also noticed that even in different countries and languages, people tend to act in a similar manner. For example, when we were at dinner, we were talking about music and when I mentioned Taylor Swift, they both squealed in a girlish way, no different than what I hear in America. The same goes for when we are playing volleyball. The environment felt very similar to what I am used to, very cheerful and having a good time. One of the most noticeable differences though was that we would say things like “onegaishimasu” and “arigatougozaimasu” before and after each game. Overall, I really enjoyed being able to play volleyball and meet other Japanese students.