Taylor

 

Name: Taylor

Major: Political Science & Asian Studies

Minor: Japanese

Program: Temple University Japan

Where: Tokyo, Japan

When: Spring 2006

Favorite Course: Special Topics in Asian Studies 304

Best Excursion: Kyoto, Japan

Favorite Dish: Unadon (eel bowl)

                                                                         Least Favorite Dish: Uni (sea urchin)

                                                                       

What was a typical day like for you while abroad?

My day started at around 6:30 every morning. I had to get up that early in order to have enough time to do my thing, eat breakfast, and catch an 8-something train. I got in a good twenty minutes of children’s TV programming over a traditional breakfast (a bowl of hot rice with a raw egg cracked over it and some soy sauce, hopefully with miso soup on the side) before I had to run.

I finally arrived at school, a little after ten. Packages from home were a godsend, so frequent mail-checking was a staple of the day. After mail call, I spent the morning in Japanese or Japanese Culture class, depending on the day, where every little detail of Japan was drilled into our heads for an hour or so. As for lunch, while I thought at first it would be fun to eat “real” ramen all the time, I learned that it was expensive and almost impossible to finish an entire bowl. Instead, I hit the konbini (convenience store) for cheap lunch boxes.

If it was Wednesday, I hit yoga after that for an hour. If not, I hung out in the caf’, where the Americans and Japanese mix it up for whacky mealtime adventures. If I was feeling adventurous, I went off on a field trip to Tokyo Tower or shopping in Shibuya or Akihabara. One week we went to Ginza, where we accidentally found ourselves in the Eastern Grounds of the Imperial Palace. Of course, we couldn’t go in—the emperor doesn’t like kids on his lawn—but we photographed the surrounding area plenty.

After classes, we had a variety of activities to choose from. If it was a Wednesday, I would spend a few hours at the hot springs. If it was a Friday, I headed to archery club. Any one of a number of shopping districts was a short ride away. In addition, the school kept us busy with various cultural activities. If I was tired, it was straight home (two hours approximately) to a hot mama-made dinner and a few hours of crazy Japanese television.

I got most of my Japanese practice during this time, chatting with my mother, playing with the kids, and just watching the telly. After about nine cups of tea, I headed upstairs to lay on my futon and work/play on the Internet before bed. You will learn to live by your futon—Japanese homes are not heated. You also hang your clothes to dry, in your window, so don’t expect privacy.

This was also the time for emails, calling home, and writing posts, and it was about 8 a.m. Philadelphia time, 10 p.m. Tokyo time, on the same day. I think this might have been the most disorienting thing of all.