The Eye of the Hurricane – Daily Life at ICU

I was thinking about the fact that I am more than halfway through my time here, and almost exactly halfway through my semester at ICU. Which means that I was enjoying a moment of solace in the time before my week gets CRAZY.

The scribblings of a madman… or kanji study. Whichever.

My blog posts so far have been highlights of general life in Tokyo, but what *I* really wanted to know when I was picking a study abroad program was what was daily life like? What would I be doing on a day to day basis? So I decided to give a brief rundown of my week, especially for those Wellesley or Middlebury students who will be in the same program I am in.



No Classes.

I woke up at 12:30 yesterday, and proceeded to write not nearly enough of the paper that is due in about a week and a half. Generally, ICU is not harder than Wellesley in terms of academics. In fact I haven’t done a single reading for my history class, because we don’t have any. I just show up to lecture and play simultaneous interpreter with my brain as the professor lectures on in Japanese. But, if you procrastinate enough when you have a paper to write in a foreign language… well time is something that all papers take. Especially when you constantly mess up grammar.


J6 from 8:50 – 11:30, with a individual meeting sometime afterwards

ICU’s Japanese classes are called “JLP.” You take a placement exam that kind of resembles the JLPT in structure, along with a brief interview, and they place you. Kanji is really important, so although I have been studying Japanese since high school (and seriously for maybe 2 out of those 5 years), since I am atrocious at kanji I elected to place myself in a level where we still have kanji quizzes. I was borderline so I had a bit of a choice. The class is perfect for me. For those who think like me in terms of textbooks, J6 is like the end of Tobira + a little extra. So J4 – J5 is Tobira with a little Genki II, and J1-J3 are Genki I/II. Pretty familiar for anyone who has taken a Japanese class at a school with a trimester system.

Middlebury Class from 1 – 2

I am only taking 2 ICU classes. The other two credits are Middlebury credits. This class is for the creation of our “cultural portfolio” (read: blog), and writing an essay about our “community engagement” (read: unpaid labor.) It’s pretty chill, and Eda-sensei is super nice.

~Nap~, Dinner, Homework

I try to get some rest and relaxation in on Tuesday evenings. I do my homework for Thursday on these nights, and will normally make myself dinner. I live in Dialogue House, which is a hotel-esque dorm on campus with no kitchen. I have been promising to make a Microwave Cooking post, and when I do I will show you the magic of oven grilled shrimp and cheesy eggs (not together. But both made in the microwave.)



Community Engagement from 11 – 4

This is something that I started this past week. I work at a cafe in Mitaka helping out with translation, cleaning, serving customers, that sort of thing. It really bit a chunk into my schedule, but I had been complaining all semester I wasn’t busy enough so really I brought this upon myself.

部活練習 from 5:30 – 9:00 (yes, 9:00 pm.)

I decided to join Wadaiko, the Japanese drumming group on campus, in order to force myself out of my comfort zone. It would be really easy for my abroad experience to be Wellesley 2.0 in Japan, and I wanted to try new things that made me nervous. Everyone has been super welcoming, although practice is exhausting. Wellesley practices for 4 hours a week, with a one our drill session that people more often than not skip. Wadaiko practices for literally twice as much time. Its pretty tiring, but I am so glad I joined.

Thursday (aka Hell Day)

J6 from 8:50 – 1:00, 中東史 from 3:10 – 7:00 pm (yes, 7:00 PM)

ICU has this period schedule that is almost exactly like Wellesley’s, but shifted by 20 minutes. Except at Wellesley, seminar’s are only two block periods not three. For a Japanese class this may seem normal, but for 中東史 that means I am sitting listening to my professor for OVER THREE HOUSE OF STRAIGHT LECTURING. I mean the subject is interesting, and I can’t read the powerpoints so I have to listen, but its definitely tiring. Thursday night I never want to do any homework, but I know I need to push through…


J6 from 8:50 – 11:30

On a WAlk

And then we hit the weekend! You have already seen what I do on the weekend – hemorrhage money. Every week is a long weekend, so for example this upcoming weekend I am going to Okinawa. I will go to clubs. I have club practice from 8:50 – 1:00 on Saturday, but after that I can just chill. And by chill I mean pretend like I don’t have homework until Monday and cry over how little money I have.

That’s basically my life – sometimes school is harder than normal (this week is AWFUL). But, as you can tell, I have plenty of time to enjoy life in and around ICU to my litter heart’s content.

Things to look forward to for next week – a post on OKINAWA and Microwave Cooking.


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