I started off this quarter doing the same project as last quarter, pottery lessons. I started the lessons late so they carried over to the first half of this quarter. I really enjoyed the lessons, but when it was over I wanted to find a CIP that didn’t cost as much money. One that cost no money would be even better. So that narrowed my options down to clubs and volunteering, unfortunately the circles at Doshisha weren’t very active this semester because the Japanese students were on spring break for two months in February and March. I began to look into volunteering opportunities, but I was wary of committing myself to something when I was going to be gone in a month and a half. I was rereading the other student’s entries to try and find something and I stumbled upon Klexon.
Klexon is an international language exchange organization. They have a meeting each week; they also have special events on weekends occasionally. I have only gone to a few meetings, but it isn’t as awkward as I thought that it was going to be at first. I am a rather shy person; I’m not big on talking to strangers in English, let alone in Japanese. But I found that many of the other people at Klexon, were just as nervous to talk to me, which somehow made it less daunting. Many of the Japanese people at Klexon are students, but there are also a lot of office workers, who are transferring to an English speaking country or have spent time working in an English speaking country before. I also met a man who just quit his job and was planning on traveling the world. Because Klexon is meant to be a language exchange program, talking to and making friends with the other people is expected and I found that while many people were shy like me, it wasn’t so hard after a few minutes to keep a conversation going.
With pottery lessons on the other hand, I felt like an outsider very keenly for most of the classes. I was not only a foreigner but also much younger than the other students and a first-time potter. Eventually I began to feel like I was gaining ground in the group, but soon after that the classes were over. I think that if it had been a longer class I would have been able to make more progress. I’m not sure that there is really a secret to making integration into the group easier, if there is I would like to know it. For me it just took time and being polite.