This semester, I participated in the Doshisha Exchange Student Association for my CIP activity. I elected to do DESA as my CIP because I thought it would be a good way to make Japanese friends while here in Kyoto. I was initially worried about spring break in March, but I was pleasantly surprised to find out that there was still an abundance of activities planned for members. Some of this semester’s most memorable activities were the Biwako snowboarding trip, and the sightseeing and sumo trip to Osaka.
As a student living in an apartment rather than a homestay, I do not have a host family with whom I can practice my speaking skills. Participation in DESA became an excellent way for me to use Japanese outside of the classroom and in everyday conversation. I started DESA as just another member of a campus circle, but I was extremely pleased when people I met through DESA started inviting me to hang out outside of official DESA events. While speaking Japanese can oftentimes be quite difficult, I have been able to make meaningful friendships during my time in DESA, and I have been receiving complements on my improving conversational skills.
DESA has been an extremely fulfilling CIP, and I think that it was a great fit for me. DESA has been a great way for me to make friends, improve my speaking skills, and to travel around Kyoto and surrounding areas. It is disappointing to have to leave as the new school year starts and DESA gains new members, but my participation this semester has been a rich experience and I am looking forward to my final DESA events as my time in Kyoto comes to a close.