I’m Becky, and at UNCG I’m a junior English and Asian Studies major, but here at Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto I’m a level 3 student in the Intensive Japanese Language Track of the Study in Kyoto Program. (That’s 3 out of 8. They aren’t kidding when they call it intense.)
When I first got here, I’m not gonna lie, I cried a little while I unpacked, and then I passed out for about 12 hours. But I had just left my friends and family on the other side of the world and traveled for about 18 hours to a city where I knew absolutely no one and (apparently) barely spoke the language. It’s a little stressful, no one blames you.
|Meical at the falls at Hanayashiki|
|My friends and I at Arashiyama. I'm conveniently in the middle.|
Once the stress of coming to a new place passes and I started to learn my way around, the people from my dorm and I started to go out and explore more and spend time together, and I’m happy to say that some of them are some of my closest friends. It’s amazing how little time it takes to get close to someone when you’re living in another country with them. I was sitting watching anime with some friends one weekend when I thought about how close we all were, like we had known each other for years… and then I realized that we had only known each other for about three weeks.
|Hozomon in Asakusa. I didn't get a picture of Kaminarimon, but I think Hozomon is more impressive, anyway.|
|Kinkaku-ji is just so pretty that I couldn't help but feel like a tourist and take a bunch of pictures.|
Kyoto itself is a beautiful city with tons of history. There are temples and shrines everywhere, and even if you had a week of doing nothing but visiting them, I’m not sure you could do it. There’s also castles, since for a long time, Kyoto was the capital of Japan. I was lucky enough to be here while the sakura were in bloom, which was incredible. Everything was pink and looked almost fluffy. I just wish I could have done more sightseeing while they were in bloom, but alas, the “study” part of “study abroad.”
|The train stop near Ritsumeikan when the sakura were in full bloom|
|You can pretty much see all of Kairaku-en from inside the General's house.|
Classes haven’t stopped me from travelling and seeing new things completely, though. During Golden Week, which is basically spring break for the whole country, I took a trip to eastern Japan. I took the shinkansen from Kyoto Station in the morning and was in Tokyo by early afternoon. I spent my first day there in Asakusa, which is known mostly for its temples (you would think I’d be sick of them from living in Kyoto, but not a chance), but it’s also home to Hanayashiki, the oldest amusement park in Japan. And since it was actually a fairly short walk, I figured a trip to Tokyo Sky Tree was in order. The next day, I hit up Harajuku and headed to Mito to spend a couple days with an old friend. She and her mom ended up taking me to one of the three most famous gardens in all of Japan, Kairaku-en, which was closer to her house than her old high school! After our visit, I headed back to Tokyo to meet up with some friends from school, and we made our rounds in Akihabara and Harajuku before going back to Kyoto.
|Tokyo Sky Tree lit up at night|
|Japan has mascots for pretty much any an d every thing. This mascot is for one of Osaka's airports.|
Which has a lot more stuff than just temples, by the way. It’s still the cultural capital of Japan, but it’s also got shopping, arcades, and a monkey park. Yes, a monkey park. You have to hike up a mountain, but you can feed monkeys at Arashiyama. The temples and shrines are what attract most people, though. Some of the more famous ones are Kinkaku-ji, Fushimi Inari Taisha, and Kiyomizu-dera. I’ve only been to Kinkaku-ji so far, but they’re all really pretty and must-sees if you’re ever in Kyoto (which I highly recommend, because it’s really a cool city).
|Hanayashiki is Japan's oldest amusement park, and actually pretty fun.|
|Kikaku-jin is the temple the "Brass or Bell Tower" from Pokemon is based.|
It’s weird to think that my time here is half over, and I do wish that I had done some things differently (like listened to my RA when he told me to do and see things every weekend while I’m here), but overall, when I think about the things that I have seen and done, and the people I’ve met, I can’t say I regret my choice to come to Ritsumeikan, and I know that when I leave in about two months, I’ll miss all of it.
Ritsumeikan University, Kyoto