At the start of the program, a big thing that the company emphasized was to be respectful of the Japanese culture.
The staff explained that Japanese people believed in social and collective responsibility. That meant everything from making sure that you leave any place cleaner than it was before to making sure all your actions are considerate of the people around you. People refrained from doing anything that inconvenienced others – whether that meant taking a phone call in the subway station or eating in a public area.
Going off of this, many people emphasized the importance of immersing oneself into the culture during their time in Japan. The staff advised us to try the local food, experience traditions, and explore. We were provided with some recommendations on things to do and places to visit – and the program arranged a couple meet ups to various events around Tokyo.
Living far from my office in a foreign country and working with foreign students for 9 hours a day is the most interesting – but also draining – experience. This week, I’ve tried my best to try to refrain from heading straight home after a long work day. Instead, I have been doing my best to try to immerse myself into the local culture. With it already being over a month in Japan, I was shocked to realize that I hadn’t done most of what I had wanted to on the bucket list that I had created before coming here. I talked with my students on their recommendations on what to see and where to go.
The students that I had this week were wonderfully bright and engaging. Having students who were so eager to learn made me realize how important student engagement is for the teacher. Not only did it make my job easier, but it allowed for both me and my students to gain more from the time that we had spent together. I think I learned the most out of the students that I had this week.
With the recommendations from my students and the company, I ventured out with a couple other interns to spots around Tokyo. From the Meiji shrine by Yoyogi park to the Odaiba natural hot springs – I was able to see so many beautiful places in Tokyo that I had wished I had seen earlier. I was able to experience traditional Shinto religion customs and bathe in a hot spring with Tokyo locals. Even though I wasn’t able to take as many photos as I had hoped to (I didn’t want to be disrespectful at a religious shrine and photos weren’t allowed at the hot spring baths), I was able to experience so many things that I now am able to hold onto in forms of memories.
I’m a little upset that I had let the long work days keep me from exploring Japanese culture prior to this, but I’m excited to make the most out of the time that I have left!