TROICI, Christopher Michael
- Home Institute:
University of Virginia
My Waseda Experience
Imagine being an ant in a park; growing up, following the norms, and never leaving the colony. But you decide, one day you are going to break free from your mundane habits and experience something completely new. You want to see the rest of the park. So you say goodbye to everyone you know, live in a completely new place, and make memories, friendships, and connections that will last forever. It may sound a little cheesy, but my attendance at the Waseda Summer Session was one of the most influential experiences of my entire life.
Like the ant in the analogy I had never been out of the United States before coming to Japan, so when I landed in Narita International Airport I felt a little lost. I was in a place where I didn’t know the culture, customs, or language; I was scared that I wouldn’t make friends, or that the teachers wouldn’t be accepting. But I am glad to say this was not the case. From the moment I moved into my accommodation I felt a sense of community with the other Waseda students. What surprised me most was that even though students were from all over the world, we all shared similar discomforts and this brought us together as a community.
At orientation we were introduced to the professors, TA’s, and some key administrative staff. When reading the itinerary for the day I thought it was going to be a basic boring logistical talk, but the information that was presented was clear, concise, and humorous. It seemed like all the professors where competing to see who could get the biggest laugh from the crowd. This was a welcome change to how most of my introduction sessions have been at my home university.
The next day, classes started; I enrolled in Culture I and Culture III. Though these classes were both about the culture of Japan, they differed drastically in how the information was presented. Culture I took a more traditional lecture style approach, whereas Culture III presented information through the use of many guest speakers throughout the Japanese pop culture sphere. Both classes together gave me a good background into what is Japan and who are the Japanese.
TAs and professors were very helpful when it came to non-school related advice also. Whether it was trying to find the best bowl of ramen in Tokyo or the best Izakaya to go hang out and meet locals, everyone was able to give solid suggestions. If I have one word of advice to any prospective student, it is get to know your professors and TAs out of class. They are some of the kindest, smartest, and most genuine people you will ever meet in your entire life.
Throughout the entire session my views were challenged, my misconceptions eroded, and my understanding of the World (not just the Japanese) deepened. Sadly I will never be able to take part in this session again because this year I will be graduating. But if you are able to do it, please do. It was one of the best experiences in my entire life and I’m sad I only did one summer at Waseda. I love these people and I know that you will too.