2018 September, excited with my Waseda half-year exchange offer, I flew 11 hours from Canada to Japan. It was really like a dream come true for me as I have always wanted to study in Japan. However, not until I really got on the Yamanote-sen have I realized I am really in Japan. People were speaking really fast and I really didn’t understand the Keigo(Honorific) part of the announcement. “I wish I could turn on subtitles like I always do when I am watching Terrace House” was what I had in mind. Maybe it was the jetlag and the whole new environment, I felt a little lightheaded and nervous.
ICC was a whole new definition for me when I heard it on the orientation day. It seems like another student circle but you don’t need a membership to attend. There are various international events with different organizations and institutions that cater to all interests. I soon filled my schedule with all sorts of ICC events and was dragging a couple international friends along with me. In the beginning, it was really nerve wrecking as I was really unconfident with my Japanese. Feeling a bit awkward and not knowing what to do, I attended my first Japanese Chat Club event. Even though I couldn’t come up with proper sentences and ended up just piecing Japanese vocabularies together, I got to make a lot of friends whom I am still close with. ICC really made Japanese less intimidating and gave me a sense of belonging.
From attending chat club events, elementary school visits, cultural night events, to sports events, I met people from all around the world. These all gave me the opportunity to get to know the local Japanese culture and myself better. Other than all the evens, it is absolutely normal for someone to just drop by the ICC lounge and talk. With the friendly space, I never have to worry about where to chill or meetup with my friends. If it hadn’t been for ICC, my exchange life wouldn’t have been that colorful. I wouldn’t miss Japan that much and come back to Japan if I didn’t get “lured” by the amazing ICC staff (not saying that because I am one of them now XD).
Half a year really passed by like a blink. It was too difficult to say goodbye to this lovely country, city, campus, and most importantly, the people. Having that in mind, I decided to apply back to Waseda for Graduate program which was the only program I applied. And…now I am back! Back to this familiar place for another two year to research on labor issues. Everything seems the same but also surprisingly different in just a year. I was fortunate enough to know the opportunity of becoming one of the supporters and lucky enough to have the opportunity to join ICC team.
I still remember the conversation I had in ICC lounge with a few of my friends－every one of us is just like a playlist. We have different styles, different tones, and different stories to share. Knowing people from other cultural backgrounds really give you a new perspective of the world and whole new playlist to listen to. ICC, to us, was just like Spotify, where we can share our stories freely. It is up to you to have your own definition and make the most out of your university life. I am not saying all these because I am part of the team now; it is because I really created special memories in ICC. As a supporter now, I truly hope I can share this with each one of you. Look forward to seeing you here at ICC .
C. Y. (Student Staff Leader)