Pre-Departure Orientation

Day 1

Today was a long day. I stayed up way too late last night because I decided to weigh my bag, which I assumed would be under the weight limit. I discovered my bag was, in fact, way OVER the limit and I ended up having to unpack all of my things and figure out what to leave behind. A word of advice: Weigh your bag as you go along! Don’t be like me and pack too much and then have to unpack and re-pack it all again!

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Outside of the Renaissance Hotel in Dupont Circle, Washington D.C.

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My hotel room. Not too bad at all!

My dad and I left for D.C. pretty early, so I arrived at the hotel long before any scheduled activities. That means I had the afternoon to kill! The best thing about D.C. is all of the free museums. Especially art museums! So my dad and I wandered over to the National Portrait Gallery so I could have a look at some art.

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In the evening there was a meet-and-greet. This included students studying in the CLS East Asia institutes: Japan, Indonesia and China, as well as our program officers. The East Asia part of the CLS Program is handled by Ohio State University, so some people from OSU were around as well as some people from the Department of State. It was really awesome to get to meet so many people. Everybody seems really accomplished and interesting. I’m actually quite an anti-social person, so I felt a little overwhelmed to meet so many new people in the span of a few hours, but it was quite fun. We did an icebreaker activity involving bingo, which was silly but effective in getting everybody to mix and mingle. Afterwards, I felt totally beat so I went to bed early. Couldn’t really sleep though, too many things racing through my head. I have the worst nerves!

Day 2

Today was filled with meetings and speakers and discussions about the CLS Program, what it provides, and what we are expected to give back. Most of what they emphasized was that we all really need to make our best effort to not speak any English at all. The best way to get the absolute most out of this opportunity is to commit yourself and be completely immersed in the language. I agree! Although it’s definitely not going to be easy to keep this promise.

After hearing the rules of the program, we got to hear from several panels of speakers. One of the panels was the “Professional Opportunities Panel” which was comprised of people that use their Japanese language abilities in their jobs. They all work in different fields but managed to find a niche in their field where their passion for Japanese would be utilized on a daily basis. I thought it was really inspirational. People often ask me why I am studying Japanese, or how knowing Japanese could possibly be useful to my long-term career and life goals. Hearing from these people, all of whom have benefitted a great deal from studying Japanese, made me feel really confident that someday I, too, will find a job that ties Japanese in with my career.

Another panel we heard from was CLS Japan alumni from years 2011 and 2012. Although they studied in Kyoto, they gave us a good deal of general advice about what to do (or not to do) while studying in Japan this summer. They told us some recommendations in terms of places to go and see, which I found particularly useful. Luckily one of the speakers is a PhD candidate studying Japanese Art History (another art person! yay!), and I got to talk to her afterwards and she recommended some art museums that I should make an effort to go and see, if possible.

I am totally exhausted. We took in a lot of information today, all of which is really important information. I feel a little intimidated. Although I really want to do my best improve my proficiency in Japanese, the program requirements are really tough. We will have 4 hours of Japanese instruction everyday, followed by several hours worth of field work and and homework, all of which is due at the next class. We receive grades daily based on our performance in class and our completion of out-of-class work. I hope I can keep up with the work load and still have enough time to do some exploration, and hopefully some travel, too.

We have to gather in the lobby at 1:15am to take a bus to the airport, so it looks like none of us are getting any sleep tonight. Hopefully that’ll help me fall asleep quickly on the plane. We have a layover in San Francisco, and from there we fly to Osaka, and then take a bus to Himeji. In total it’s more than 24 hours of travel, so by the time we reach Himeji it will probably be the evening on Saturday.

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