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Journals from Doshisha University, Japan

2010-11-12 A Day at Doshisha

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With my class (Level 4 class 52) and Tsukiyama-sensei

Somehow I have been here for 2 months without noticing! Since school started I have slipped into a semi-comfortable routine of school and dorm life—the days all blend together until I hardly notice time passing. Here is today:

–:40 am – I wake up to the shoji screen rattling. My room is freezing and it’s windy outside; I flick on my heater, open the shoji, and lie in bed watching clouds chase by in the blue sky outside until the room warms up and my alarm goes off at 8:00. Tuesdays are nice because I don’t have a first-period class! Every other day I’m up at 7:00.

9:30 am – I’m dressed and have eaten breakfast and am now scrambling to get my obento (boxed lunch) made. I make one every day I go to school. There is a cafeteria at Doshisha that is reasonable, but I think it’s cheaper and more fun to make my own lunches. Today is plain, though: rice, a hard-boiled egg, edamame, and mikan (mandarin orange).

10:00 am – Bike commute to Doshisha. I wrote about how that goes in my previous post! Today the weather is brilliant, but the brisk wind catches my poofy jacket like a sail and I have to pedal hard to get anywhere.

10:45 am – I’m sitting in class, Reading Comprehension with Tsukiyama-sensei, who is our favorite Japanese teacher. She is thorough and funny and kind. Today’s lesson is on vocab to do with getting hurt and sick. Bruises, sprains, casts, malnutrition, vomit, constipation, we learn to say it all. Despite that unappetizing topic, by the end of class my stomach is growling and looking forward to lunch!

12:15 pm– In the very crowded student lounge. I meet up with my German friend Carina and the two Brits, Stacey and Jamie, from our dorm. Jamie is half Malaysian, and English as they come, while Stacey is an authority on all things manga and anime. Carina is the most majime (serious) of all of us. But don’t be fooled by her small stature and quiet personality--she is a black-belt in karate!

1:00 pm– Off to the Kambaikan building with Carina to study. We found a lounge there we love: it’s quiet, but it’s the one place where whispering or eating while studying isn’t a mortal sin. There’s also a washitsu, Japanese-style room, with cushions all over the tatami mat floor. But Carina has strict German ideas about studying properly, and sitting on the floor is not one of them. So we sit Westernly at a table and act very majime for two entire hours.

3:00 pm– Advanced Intermediate Grammar Overview with Matsumoto-sensei. Matsumoto-sensei is the kind of teacher who can control a large class of rambunctious international students without effort. I wouldn’t ever want to cross him, but he has a handsome Cheshire-cat grin and often makes hilarious example sentences for new grammar (“they’re easier to remember”), so he is quite popular with students despite his strictness. 

4:30 pm– I meet my conversation partner Yukiko, whom I met through one of the graduate students in my dorm. She studies hard as a senior Economics major, and is very reserved in a proper Japanese way. I hope we can get to know each other better; so far it seems she doesn’t care to let our relationship extend beyond our weekly conversation times.

6:30 pm– On the way home. I pass the crèpe shop, and it looks so warm and inviting I contemplate popping in to say hi. I’ve somehow become acquainted with the sole owner and employee, 34-year-old Ryoji-san, who sports a bleached mohawk in contrast with his baby-face. He is very sweet, but I think I am the first foreigner he has ever interacted with, and this makes him a bit ridiculous and inclined to forget our age difference. I decide to brave the cold and continue.

7:30 pm– eating dinner! Today is zenzai, a sweet red bean soup with toasted mochi (rice dumplings?). I don’t eat this dish very often, but it includes two things I love, azuki beans and mochi, and is a warm comfort food. Dessert today is more mikan and a present of chocolate ice cream from a dorm-mate.

8:00 pm– with a couple dorm-mates in the lounge. They are watching some comedy program, but honestly the Japanese TV commercials are more entertaining than any of the shows! We stay up late sipping tea and laughing and talking about having to go do homework.

12:30-1:30 am– bedtime! I really don’t get enough sleep but it’s hard to break the habit. When I get home from school I spend most of the evening cooking dinner, so if I want to do homework or relax a bit it starts to get late. At last I cuddle up in my futon, hoping the hours will pass slowly until my alarm goes off again...

~Leah Sedy

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