Sara Allen: DESA (Doshisha International Student Club)

Since the Japanese school semester finishes in mid-March, I unfortunately had to end my CIP as a volunteer at a Kyoto Middle School. For the rest of my time in Japan, I decided to join DESA, a Doshisha University international exchange club. During my first few weeks in Kyoto I had attended a few DESA events so it was a natural fit for me to become involved in DESA.

I found DESA to be an invaluable experience. Although I was able to practice Japanese at home with my host parents, I felt that I was able to talk more candidly with the Japanese students in DESA. Moreover, it was interesting to learn Japanese slang, as well as being able to hear Japanese university students’ thoughts on global issues. Most of our outings were to nomikai’s and izayaka’s (all you can eat and drink restaurants), which are large part of Japanese nightlife. This was a great way to familiarize myself with Japanese drinking culture and also provided a relaxed and friendly atmosphere for us all to get to know each other.

It was interesting to see the differences in nightlife and drinking culture. American university students usually frequent bars and clubs and Japanese students tend to go to nomikai’s in small groups. This more intimate setting allows people to get to know each other since nomikai’s are more relaxed and quieter than the clubs and bars in America.

However, since Doshisha was not in session at the time I was attending DESA meetings there were not as many meetings as usual. Even when there were meetings, the number of international students greatly outnumbered the number of International students.

That being said, the people I did meet, both international students as well as Japanese students, were all awesome people. All of them enriched my time in Kyoto in some way.



3 thoughts on “Sara Allen: DESA (Doshisha International Student Club)

  1. Most of the events were clubs and bars? There’s gotta be some good stories in there somewhere. What’s some of the best slang you learned? Did you teach any of the Japanese students some English slang? What were some of their views on global issues that you found surprising/interesting? Lots of questions but it sounds like a great time and a great club.

    • Henry and Sarah, thanks for your comments. I guess the most used phrase I learned was “iki, iki, iki” or “chug, chug, chug” in English. The group of students we hung out with were all great! They were so open-minded and it was interesting to hear their views on the situation with North Korea, Japanese relations with China and Korea and their view on America — they all seemed to love Obama!

      My favorite event would probably be sumo wrestling in Osaka. Although it was expensive, I saw first-hand a long-existing Japanese tradition. The experience was unforgettable and worth the money!

      Lastly, the we mostly spoke Japanglish, a mix of Japanese and English. However, since the DESA students’ English was far superior to our Japanese, I would have to say the dominant language was definitely English.

  2. It sounds like it was a great idea to become involved in DESA! I was going to ask the same question as Henry–what was the best slang you learned? Also, what was your favorite event? Was it ever awkward choosing between English or Japanese, or did you usually just choose one when you were talking with Japanese students? I’m glad it was a good CIP! I hope future KCJS-ers keep up the tie with DESA.