IES Abroad takes us on trips and to shows inside and outside of Nagoya to help us adjust to life in Japan, but adjusting to being a foreign student has been rather difficult. With my Japanese not being as good as I would like it to be, being able to be a part of a school in another country that does not speak English takes a lot of effort. Don’t get me wrong, my experience has been more than fun and I am becoming better at speaking in Japanese, but I wanted to branch outside of the 外国人 (foreigner) zone and really become a part of my new university.
November began with the Nanzan School Festival (南山大学祭). Each day was filled with performances, games of various sports and food sold by school clubs. I went to the festival not just to enjoy it, but also so perform in it. At the beginning of the semester, a couple of friends and I joined the dance club, N-Crew. The club does a variety of dances from house to hip-hop. For the past month and a half, I have been going to practices and learning the dances for the opening portion of our school festival performance. At first, going to practices was kind of awkward, especially since I was only one of 5 foreign students who was joining and had no prior dance experience.
As time went by, I began to feel more accepted as a part of the club. I would get acknowledged by senior members that I did not know (either with an おはよう or an お疲れ様でした) and became friends with people who were as talented at dancing as they were kind. The more time I spent in my new club, the more I also came to realize how supportive everyone is. I entered the club feeling very unsure about how it would be learning and performing choreographed dances, but I gained a lot of constructive criticism and received a lot of positive energy to keep trying and do my best. Everyone was also really patient in explaining things that I did not understand and took the time to make sure that I knew I was a part of the club.
The school festival followed a difficult week of long practices, but performing was so much fun. The theme for the performance was the first Toy Story movie. Each dance was inspired by a particular toy character, as well as a genre of dance. Many people came out the see us, including my host family, and the performance overall was a success. Since the school festival is now over, N-Crew has weekly practices were we get to learn a dance from different genres of dance. I did not think I would still be a part of N-Crew after the school festival, but since dance has paved a way for me to become a more solid part of the Nanzan community, I am definitely sticking with it.
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<p>Hi, my name is Ashley Bell and I am a Junior Political Science major at Santa Clara University. I'll be spending my spring semester in Nagoya, Japan and am very excited to share my experiences with you. I hope you enjoy seeing Japan through my eyes!</p>