It's good to be back in Tokyo! Every time I come to Japan, I arrive bursting at the seams with excitement that stems from my desire to discover new facets of Japanese society and culture with every stay I have in this wonderful country.
The end of March 2017 marked the beginning of my third visit to Japan, and spending four months as a CIEE student makes this trip the longest one yet! Now I have plenty of time to not only to visit specific points of interest, but to get a real sense of what it is like for the millions of people that live in the largest city in the world.
The first two and a half weeks of my CIEE study abroad experience consisted of a very thorough orientation at Sophia University, which is where I will be taking classes! The orientation not only educated first time visitors to Japan on what the local customs are, but was also a means to ensure that every CIEE student fully understood and was comfortable with Sophia's procedures for course registration, exams, etc. Questions were plentiful as well and the CIEE staff were very helpful in that regard.
Outside of orientation, I found myself with a new host family and multiple days off from orientation to do whatever I pleased! My host family is hardly new to hosting study abroad students, but they've still made my visit feel very special. I spent my free days reliving experiences from my last stay in Tokyo that was almost a year ago, which involved going to Akihabara many times to get lost in the maze of anime/manga/game stores, eating amazingly cheap and delicious ramen and soba noodles, and visits to the national museums in Ueno.
However, the brand new experience for me was witnessing the blooming of the cherry blossoms in Tokyo's numerous parks. Now I've watched some "slice of life" anime, and consumed Japanese media for years, and cherry blossoms were always a big deal in these fictional stories, and the fictional characters always had a strange infatuation with the season when cherry blossoms make their big break.
Only now do I understand Japan's craze over cherry blossoms. It is a popular activity to go view the cherry blossom trees with friends and family. Not only are the cherry blossoms themselves more spectacular in person than I ever imagined, but the season and the tradition of "cherry blossom viewing" is a great excuse for the locals to let loose and have fun together. I feel so incredibly lucky to be a part of that special time, as fleeting as it was.
As of writing this post (April 12), my classes at Sophia have officially begun. I'm excited to see what the curriculum at this school has in store, along with the activities that CIEE has planned out for us study abroad students (the future trip to the Ghibli museum definitely piqued my interest).
I look forward to sharing my upcoming adventures with you!