Taking a Step Back

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TUJ campus was closed February 11th and 12th in celebration of Nation Founder’s Day. Since there were two days off, it felt like an extra weekend and I’m positive that there will never be a day when a student doesn’t appreciate an extra weekend. As if to further my own notion, I planned my days off in the same way that I do my Saturdays and Sundays: one day dedicated to work and the other to play. Unlike back in the states, the winter temperatures in Japan are considered mild. There have been a few snow-showers, but the snow melts fairly quickly and the chances of having a delay of any kind or a snow-day are extremely low. This means that we have to keep a closer eye on our schoolwork.

I have discovered, forty-seven days after arriving in Japan, that the scale balancing your schoolwork and social activities doesn’t fade away. Any student considering study abroad should think about what it is they truly want from the experience. Additionally, it’s important to remember graduation requirements as they will help shape an appropriate class schedule. The minimum credit requirement for students studying abroad at Temple University Japan is twelve while the maximum is seventeen. At orientation, professors encouraged us to take only the amount of classes we felt comfortable committing to and this advice should not be overlooked. I purposely chose a hefty load this semester—sixteen credits—because there are courses offered at TUJ that I can’t take at my home-college. It’s because of this that I tend to spend more time on campus or in my dorm finishing up schoolwork than late nights out in Tokyo. It’s not a negative aspect of my experience, however, and I certainly don’t feel jaded. I’m a student, not a tourist.

Even though I enjoy being a student, it’s a treat to have a day off. February 11th and 12th were like a breath of fresh air, especially the 11th, when some friends and I took to the streets of Shinjuku to visit the cats at Cat Calico Cafe. While our day had started with cats, it hadn’t ended there. We were within walking distance of the of the Tokyo Metropolitan Building, a popular attraction known for its fare-free observatories on the 45th floor. Take my word for it, the view is dazzling. Tokyo seems especially endless when viewed from such a high up location. I can hardly believe that there are so many buildings and houses and that those same buildings and houses make up a very small part of Japan. I’m almost always getting swept up in my schoolwork so views like this remind me that there’s a much larger aspect to the study abroad experience, and it’s important to take a step back and take it all in.

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As seen from the Tokyo Metropolitan Building.

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