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.