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Study Abroad and Domestic Study Away
Notes from Abroad: Scott in Japan
Notes from Abroad is a new feature on the Off-Campus Programs website, in which we highlight small snippets of a student’s experience. This week’s feature is from Scott Mason, a computer science major and Asian studies minor participating in the ACM Japan program.
As I pass the one month mark of being in Japan, I want to follow up with you with all the
incredible things that I have observed while here. Despite my Japanese instruction at school before coming here, books couldn’t have prepared me for all of the nuances that come with being in the most populated city in the world.
I couldn’t have asked for a better time to arrive to Japan, as it was during the time of the sakura trees blossoming. Despite it’s mere two week span, the sakura trees blooming is one of the biggest events in the country; the parks are flooded with people, and the local attractions sell their seasonal goods. My host family maximized this amazing time by going to as many parks as possible and even to Mount Fuji for a day trip. The views were absolutely stunning, not only of the landscapes brilliantly defined by the flowers, but also the sheer amount of people, tourists or native Japanese, just as excited I was to see these locations. As the festivities wind down and classes start to begin, you see the amount of people still caring for their public parks and nature in general. Given how premium space is within the city, many homes do not have space for any lawns, parks are more used here than many other parts of the world. My first weeks here was a perfect way to transition to the country.
With the start of classes, and living about an hour away from Waseda University, I confront my first challenge in experiencing Japan; the transportation. Coming from the car driven city of Detroit, the sophisticated and robust rail system is definitely something I am still getting used to. I have already had more than my share of missed trains and getting on the wrong line, however, the train signifies much more in Japanese culture than I had realized originally. Given that no matter what socioeconomic status you are in, you are going to take the train, meaning that being on time is much more stressed here than most other places. From planning around the rush hour in the morning, to making sure you make the last train in the evening, timing is everything. With timing in mind, I cannot believe that I am a quarter of the way done with the program already! I have met so many motivated students, have such an amazing host family, and cannot wait to tell you more about the school once the semester is in full swing.
Thank you to Dr. Speros and the Speros Fund for Study Abroad again for making this opportunity possible, this invaluable experience will stay with me for the rest of my life.