By: Matthew Hoogwoud, Kwantlen Polytechnic University, winner of the 2017 Stories from Abroad Scholarship.
Summer in Japan is extremely hot. Normally I’m not a huge fan of the heat, but the last few weeks the temperature has grown on me. When I step out of the dormitory, I feel the blanket of humidity surround me. And at night, the warm air still permeates through the area. I love it. Night time walks are beautiful, and the warm air makes it very comfortable to walk around. In the Sanjo area of Kyoto, there is a long river called Kamo River, and in the day time is always crowded. I walk along the riverbank late at night, simply embracing the sounds of water rushing.
Recently, I went to Nara with a couple of friends. Nara is well known for it’s deer. When I was told that these deer simply roam around freely, I was skeptical. When we got to Nara, I was left speechless. There were hundreds of deer everywhere. They were not behind any special gates, they simply roamed around. We purchased some deer crackers and proceeded to feed and pet them. They were incredibly docile and calm. My personal goal that day was to find the deer with the largest antlers, and when I found him I fed him, but after that the deer wouldn’t leave me alone. I had run out of crackers, and when I tried walking away, the deer would be only two steps behind me. It was slightly unnerving, but in the best way possible. Soon, someone else got the deer’s attention, and I was free to go.
July is typhoon season, least I’ve been told, and I’ve seen already a few intense rain showers. While many people don’t like the rain, I find a solace in that type of weather. Because I grew up in B.C. all my life, I’m no stranger to rain, and while I may not love rain wholly, I am reminded of home when it does rain. When it’s raining heavily at night, I make sure to open my curtains to watch it fall, at least for a bit.
One of the places I’ve been to recently is Lake Biwa. The train ride took me and my friends just over an hour to get there. The lake was beautiful, and after we settled on a spot, we ran into the water. Which was quite cold, but refreshing. Swimming had been on my bucket list since coming here, and I’m so glad I went. I hope to go at least once more before I have to come back home, for I’ve been told that it’s not even swimming season yet –despite It being 27-29 degrees Celsius regularly.
Being in Japan has taught me many things: language barriers can be broken through creative means, summer may be my new favourite season, and to take chances with foreign concepts. However, the most important was confirmation of my life goals. For the last few years I’ve wanted to be an English teacher, and have driven myself to do so. While living Japan, I’ve helped a considerable number of students practice and learn English. Ranging from pronunciation to grammar rules. While this may sound boring to some, helping other students learn and understand English made me understand why I want to go into this career path.