I was thrilled to try my hand at traditional Japanese pottery lessons as my CIP activity this spring, but the development of severe stress fractures in both of my feet limited my mobility for much of the quarter. Still in the healing process, I have instead fulfilled my CIP duties by assisting Wada san and Shore san in the office.
I have been helping to update KCJS’s student handbook. One of my tasks is editing its existing content for clarity and flow. While doing so, I look for areas that could be improved by adding additional information. I have been creating brief explanations for things that I wish I had known when I first arrived in Kyoto. For example, how to watch for deals on Peach Airline flights, how to purchase concert or flight tickets at convenience stores, and how and why I should acquire an ICOCA card. Looking back over the handbook has allowed me to reflect on all the ways in which I have managed to acclimate to my life in Japan, as well as on how different things will be after I go home to Chicago in a few short weeks. Working in the office has also given me the opportunity to practice my keigo, which I seem to never use correctly.
Getting many first-hand encounters with Japan’s hospital system has been an eye-opening cultural experience in itself. I have had to explain my pain to multiple doctors in Japanese, each time broadening my vocabulary with the words for new symptoms and medical procedures. Never has the need for me to use clear, accurate Japanese been more important. Though I did not expect to be spending two months of my Kyoto exchange on crutches, the situation has given me the opportunity to expand my knowledge of Japan to practical medical terms, and has given me confidence in navigating a foreign hospital system. These eye-opening experiences will surely come in handy if I choose to live in Japan again later in my life.
I’m sorry your injuries got in the way of your CIP, but I’m glad you were able to turn it into something positive! It seems you were able to help a lot of future students by updating the handbook! I for one have benifited extremely by knowing about how to buy concert tickets and cheap flights and I’m sure future students will need to know that and more.
As for the hospital experience, now you can help that random foreigner in need if they injure themselves, or a fellow student! It seems like you got real life experience this semester which I hope helps you out in the future. Good luck!
Thank you for your kind words. 🙂 Though I regret not being able to pursue pottery lessons, I definitely gained many new Japanese vocabulary that never would have come across during a conventional CIP experience. I hope that I’ll never need to use some of those new vocab words again (like “stress fracture” or “nerve damage”), but they’re still good ones to have in my back pocket!