Miggy Gaspar: Kyoto University Jogging Club

This semester, I joined the Jogging club at Kyoto University. When I was deciding on a CIP, I always knew that I wanted to do something involving a physical activity, and Jogging seemed like a natural fit. I was on the cross-country and track and field team in High School, so I was pretty confident that I would be able to keep up with the other members. However, I was a little anxious about how I’d get along socially. Thankfully, everyone in the jogging club was very welcoming and friendly towards me, and I’d often get dinner with them after practice.

I’d arrive Kyoto University about thirty minutes before practice so that I could talk with others before we ran. The room allocated for the club was this janky little shack out near the back entrance – a little dirty, but had a lot of charm. The people in the circle love playing mahjong – I’d often enter and find them in the middle of a competitive match, eyes glued to the tiles. Me personally, I had no idea what was going on; I know the basics of the game, but they were playing with a different rule set. Luckily, there’d be one or two people on the side that I could talk to, and they let me in on what was going on.

The Jogging itself was also pretty fun. Usually, we’d run 8-10 kilometers every practice I went. Our usual route was from Kyoto to University to along Kamogawa River, down to the road aligned with Kyoto Station, and then back. The club itself is comprised of members who both run competitively and for fun, so there were plenty of people in between that I could run alongside with. The runs were the most exhausting part of practice – trying to translate and talk at the same time I was running was both physically and mentally taxing. Most of the time, I’d wouldn’t say much save for the occasional comment. Afterwards, the club members would bring me to a great restaurant around school campus, which was the most rewarding part of the experience. I felt that I was able to talk more freely around the other members when we were eating together.

Overall, I’m really happy with my experience in the Jogging club. It was a great way to meet new people and utilize my Japanese. My advice to new students: make jokes about how Doshisha is worse than Kyoto University on your first day- if you play up that rivalry angle, I think you’ll make a positive impression.