Do Something Different

28.07.2014 § 1 Comment

I have always pondered why mountain climbers, especially the ones who have regular jobs, climb such high mountains. What is their motivation—besides being interested in the sport—that they will risk their lives for it?

From what I’ve observed, doing something different is one of the best ways to relax and refresh our minds. Sitting in an office five days a week and climbing a snowy mountain are definitely two different things.

I too am doing something different. I am in Tokyo at Waseda University for an intense, three-week Japanese course in this hot, humid summer weather. It would definitely be less of a challenge if I were visiting during the lovely cherry blossom season or in a cool autumn. I was forewarned by a Japanese native: “Tokyo’s summer is disgusting.” But I wasn’t intending to be a tourist anyway; this is exactly the different kind of experience that I was seeking.

I arrived on a Wednesday, the day before the orientation. During the first day’s self-introductions in class, I realized that most of the students had arrived a week before. As a career woman, I didn’t have that luxury, so I ignored the jet lag and went ahead with the schedule in Tokyo time. By Friday, fatigue had kicked in, and I had to abstain from Saturday’s field trip to a famous hot spring resort called Hakone.

So far, the experience has definitely been different. We are so used to having a car and very cold air conditioning in the US, but here I feel sticky on my skin all the time. From the train station to my classroom is about a 15 minutes walk. By the third day, my skin had developed a sunburned feeling coupled with an itchiness from all the perspiration.

Every day and every class, the classroom is different! And the lunch break is only 45 minutes. The closest lunch place I found is across the street from my classroom, but there’s no place to eat. It is hard to eat standing under a blazing sun. There is air conditioning on the first floor of the international student building, but no classroom or any other room allows food, so I end up eating in the small lobby, standing, with my bags on my shoulder, and leaning against the recycle bins behind me, facing students coming in and out of the elevators. It has been a humbling experience.

Waseda University

Okuma Auditorium and Waseda University Library.
Okuma was the founder of this famous school.

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