Good morning everyone! I hope you are off to a great start this semester! This past week has been pretty bustling over here. Last week we all had a very busy orientation week and many students had placement tests. During orientation week, I lived in seminar house 4, located 15 minutes from the campus by walking, where I made a plethora of new friends and had an absolute riot!
When I arrived at the seminar house, I didn’t have a roommate for the first two days. To be honest, I was a little nervous about staying at the seminar house this semester because I didn’t know anyone. Last semester when I came to Japan, I was with two fellow USF students at the same dorm. After my first day, I decided to go start meeting all of the people that had arrived at the dorm. This is when I realized how much I have changed during my experience studying abroad. When I was at USF, I wasn’t necessarily shy but I was definitely not much of a conversation initiator. At the end of orientation week, there was something else I realized that had changed without my notice, something I am extremely proud of. However, I will get to that a in due time! By the third day in the dorm, I had become friends with at least 75% of the students living in the seminar house. I spent all of my time in the student lobby talking with the new exchange students and trying to calm their nerves about tests and the homestay “horror stories” they had read online. On the fourth day, many of us took a trip to Kyoto but were separated into different groups with Japanese tour guides (Kansai Gaidai students whom wanted to make friends with foreigners). While I have been to Kyoto more times than I can count, it was still a load a fun! We got back to Hirakata-shi at 7pm and all went out to a Nomihoudai Izakaya (All you can drink bar). After spending an hour and thirty minutes there, I decided to leave before everyone because I didn’t want to ride in the same bus back to the dorm. They were enjoying themselves a little to much and were being noisy. When I told everyone I was leaving, another student across the table said he would join me. I am really glad I left when I did because after they arrived back to the dorm, I heard while they were riding the bus a Japanese person got very angry with them for being so loud.
The following day, I had to go talk in front of all of the new exchange students participating in the homestay program. At first, I thought I should prepare something but decided to just go with it. I had a wonderful experience last semester in homestay and had so many stories, tips and tricks for creating an unforgettable semester during homestay. I arrived a few minutes before the meeting and was surprised to see so many students there. During this meeting, I realized that when I am in front of a large group of people, I don’t get nervous any more. Ever since I was a high school student, getting in front of people and talking has always been absolutely nerve racking. While, I usually do very well with my presentations, my heart was always racing and hands sometimes shook. When I was in front of the 97 students planning on doing homestay, I was not nervous at all. In fact, I felt quite confident to talk in front of my own age group. Since the beginning of the year, I have talked to hundreds of students. Even during my presentations last semester, my nerves did not get the best of me. I am extremely happy that this study abroad trip has helped me grow in more than one way.
Orientation week came to a close the day after the homestay meeting. I left the dorm and returned back to my homestay mother’s house. School started last week on Wednesday, so it was was a rather short school week. Currently there are not many Kansai Gaidai students on campus but that will all change this week on Friday. I am very excited for the new semester to get going and seeing what it brings. I will try to post some pictures that I have taken over the past week as well. Until next time, stay safe and have a great semester!