This semester is almost ending.
Time passes so quickly! I feel like this semester began a month ago!
This semester was really challenging for me, compared to the last semester. I can’t count how many pages I’ve read for classes. But a good thing is that it makes me aware that I’ve improved little by little.
In addition to academic activity, I run the Japanese Visual Culture Club at CSI this semester. We call it “JVCC.” We usually watch Japanese anime, create questions regarding Japan, and sometimes I teach Japanese since I became Vice President of the club.
It is great that there are active clubs on campus which allow you to make friends. It worked out for me, especially because I’m an international student. I didn’t have any friends who were born and raised or have lived in New York for a long time. Many of my friends at first were international students like me. So, we really knew what we should do nor how an American university works.
Besides, as I wrote before in my blog, I was heavily homesick. I came to the U.S. in January of this year, so the last semester was my first academic session. Someone told me about the JVCC at the beginning of last semester and suggested it as a way to meet other Japanese students. Although there were no Japanese students, I met a lot of American students who had similar hobbies.
Since I enjoyed this club, I decided to run for the leadership position of the JVCC at the end of the semester.
To become the Vice President, however, I needed a lot of courage.
During the election, I was very anxious. My mind was full of anxiety and questions: “Can I run the club with my limited speaking skills?” “Can I manage it with my academic work?” “What if I fail at something?” I started questioning whether I should run for the VP next semester. And then I realized that it was all my bad habit! I was procrastinating! Then, I tried to change my mind. If I miss this opportunity, I would never become the VP and I will end up regretting it. So finally, I decided to do it.
I won the election and everyone welcomed me. The Vice President’s job is to support other officers so I often work with the President. We agreed that the club should be more active and we implemented new initiatives. For instance, we invited a professor who had published online comics, co-organized a joint meeting with the International Students Club, went to Karaoke, taught Japanese phrases every week, and so on.
This is when I presented about Yokai, or Japanese traditional ghosts.
I felt a little bit nervous when I stood in the front, but it turned out that everybody enjoyed it. It was interesting that we had different perspectives and feelings. Some club members asked me something that I’d never considered before. I’m glad that many people are interested in my home country’s culture. The reason why I came here is to learn American culture but I think I need both input and output. I love these weekly cultural exchanges. (Maybe that’s why I chose Sociology as my major.) I’ll continue being an officer of the club, so I’m already excited that I will be able to get new experiences next semester.
Many people around me told me that I changed in a good way. Someone said, “Now you have many friends and you became an international student peer advisor and VP of the club! What happened to Ayaka who always cried?!” Well ... even I didn’t expect that such a big change would occur in me. And I’m happy about not crying most of the time.
Although there might be a barrier where I’m heading, I know that I can overcome it. By challenging yourself, you will find that you can achieve what might seem impossible at first.
Ayaka is a Japanese 24-year-old transfer student at the College of Staten Island, the City University of New York. She is majoring in Sociology.
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