As the scene outside the window of the Shinkansen train gradually changed to a delightful rural view, I knew I had arrived in Kyoto. The beautiful city full of historical architecture greatly resembles Makoto Shinkai’s movie. New experiences at Ritsumeikan University were ahead of me. Its small Kinugasa campus is home to a diverse study body with a shared experience – studying abroad. That diversity allowed for rich academic and cultural experiences through enriching and enlightening discussions about Japanese culture.
“Study in Kyoto” highlights the importance of the city with opportunities to explore. Among my most memorable moments was a visit to the University’s Kyoto Museum for World Peace, the first museum in peace study in the country. I also explored a temple with amazing people and exhibitions. I saw the most beautiful view of aoba (green leaf) and encountered a graceful monk who introduced the history of the temple to me.
I also volunteered at Gion Matsuri, the biggest summer ritual in Kyoto. During the annual event, I spent several nights with university students as well as Kyoto residents to make artistic handicrafts for the matsuri. Despite my imperfect Japanese skills, I made myself at home in a narrow, Japanese-style room and learned from the people around me. I also helped to organize a special evening event. The moments were captured by a photographer who thought it was special to see a foreigner helping with this Japanese ceremony.
Studying abroad offered an immersive experience with Japanese culture and language that expanded my mind, sharpened by skills, and prepared me to pursue the career of my choice.