TODAY MARKS DAY THIRTY-EIGHT of my time here in Chiba, Japan. Completing internship work, applying to medical schools online, and making time to discover the world around me has made the days fly by. My journey so far, however, has been nothing but enlightening.
I AM INTERNING at the Funabori Orthopedic Surgical Hospital of Chiba, Japan. Through the guidance of my supervisor, Lakeita, I am creating an ESL (English as a Second Language) teaching portfolio while also meeting with a physician once/twice a week to assist in his research paper composition. I have not only gained greater insight into the roles of a teacher but also noticed how I, as an aspiring physician, can learn from teachers to more effectively care for my patients in the future. For example, when a teacher is creating her lesson plan or going about her daily class, it is important that she is aware of where each of her students is at. She must gain knowledge of her students and understand their weaknesses so that she can optimally guide their language growth. Likewise, a physician must maintain an open ear and awareness to her patients’ personal struggles and narrative to fully promote their physical and mental healing. The compassion that a teacher must show to her students parallels the compassion that a physician must show to her patients.
AS MUCH AS I MISS HOME AT TIMES, there is nothing like being in Japan. As a lover of artwork, cats, matcha desserts, stationary, and seafood, Japan is to me as Disneyland is to a child.
This is one, of many, pictures at a cat café in Sumida. For half an hour it was 700 yen or about 7 US dollars.
Taken actually today (7/30), I decided to take a break and head to Nana’s Green Tea. A small restaurant in the shopping area around the Tokyo Tower that specializes in everything matcha, including lattes, frappes, ice cream, and parfaits.
Despite a bit over my average 5 dollar lunches, I decided to treat myself this day to this delicious plate of sashimi and other delicacies – costing about 12 dollars.
AS I MENTIONED, I am very fond of artwork. So, the countless amount of diverse art museums around me almost seems surreal. Aside from going to larger, well-known museums like the National Art Center of Japan and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, I have mostly ventured through smaller galleries featuring local artists. Having studied abroad at Waseda University in Tokyo two years, I feel the clear difference between living in a famous, bustling area versus now living in the quieter, non-touristy area of Funabashi. Fresh produce is cheaper, streets are far less crowded, faces I see at the supermarket have become familiar, and local galleries and museums seem to have very few visitors – allowing me to quietly look at each art piece without someone pushing me out of the way.
This was a photo taken at the Meguro Museum of Art. This exhibit of Finish artwork was meant to display Japan’s strong bond with Finland.
AS MUCH AS I AM AN INDIVIDUAL EXPLORER, I have been so grateful to strengthen old bonds and make new ones along the way. My friend from Waseda University, Takako, has been so kind. She not only exposed me to the delicious Vietnamese food that you can find in the hidden streets of Japan but also invited me to a Takoyaki party. These small social gatherings show me how the serious faces you encounter in the busy streets or squished in the subway quickly turn into welcoming smiles upon smaller, more personable moments.
Takoyaki party set up!
I HAVE ALSO MADE NEW BONDS, at very unexpected moments. For example, I went to the Brazilian Festival at Ueno Park and asked a random man, who seemed friendly, to take a photo of me in front of the festival gate. Shortly after, his group of friends came, one of which spoke Portuguese very fluently. As we talked, it ends up that he is a neurosurgeon at the University at which my grandfather also attended! After we exchanged business cards, he has been so kind to offer any help that I may need while I am here.
Here is the photo that we took! The man on the far right could speak Portuguese fluently,
Another time, I was very tired of writing my application essays in my room here in my sharehouse. So, I decided to head to a cafe and write my essays over a nice cup of matcha iced latte. As I was working, I heard a man teaching Japanese to a girl who also seemed to be a foreigner. After they were done, I spoke with a man, and he later provided me with a couple of free Japanese speaking lessons.
An experience, however that I have most enjoyed, has been my time volunteering at Second Harvest, an NGO that makes and distributes bento boxes in different parts of Tokyo to support those with food insecurity. Through this experience, I not only learned about some different Japanese food (that I always ate at restaurants but didn’t know the foods’ names) but also met several people my age who practiced some Japanese with me. Most of them were born and raised in Japan but now go to University in England, America, or Canada.
This is the small kitchen where we prepare the bento boxes.
I have provided a quick glimpse of the first half of my time here in Japan. I cannot wait to see what awaits these next few weeks.
Happy Francine after eating matcha ice cream and having a beautiful view of the Tokyo SkyTree.