Friends in Japan! But…not Japanese?

(Featured image top left to bottom right: Greg, Stang, Tan, Gigi, Oussama, Eve, me, Mima, Dita)

Living in the International House meant running into people of every nation and culture except Japanese! Today, I’d like to post about my newfound friends from around the world and how they’ve opened my eyes just a bit more to the world in the one week I’ve been here–let’s start with friends from back home.

I’ve met two American students just like myself; their names are Greg and Tan. Unsurprisingly, we share a lot in common: we all enjoy working out, discussing politics, and ranting about how food portions here are way too small for our American stomachs. I kid. Anyway, Greg is your typical American boy who attends the University of Buffalo, NY. He is a fan of discussing politics and soccer games and knows way more about European history than I expected! Tan is a first generation Vietnamese-American so he can speak both Vietnamese and English quite well, which turned out to be quite helpful at times due to the handful or Vietnamese people here! He attends the University of North Carolina and has a knack for wrestling. He also has a weird condition that causes his feet to swell up when he drinks alcohol, so needless to say he’s a very good child.

Let’s move on to halfway across the world down to Southeast Asia. I’ve befriended three Thai students; their names Eve, Gigi, and Stang (I unfortunately cannot pronounce their names so everyone goes by their nicknames). Eve is a very reserved Thai girl, who squirms at even the thought of boys. She studies English at Chiang Mai University at Thailand and hopes to become an English teacher when she graduates. Gigi is, how you say, the complete opposite of Eve. She is reckless and outgoing and loves to drink often! She loves to talk and isn’t afraid to speak her mind out, no matter the topic. She also attends Chiang Mai University studying architecture, although I’m unsure if she still knows what she wants to do in the future. Stang is a Thai guy (heh) who attends  Sirindhorn International Institute of Technology (whew) studying computer engineering. His interests lie in sleeping, eating, and even more sleeping. Don’t get me wrong, though, he tells me his dreams of working for a large video game company in high executive positions and I’m sure he’ll make it.

Moving out of Thailand to the neighboring country of Indonesia are two Indonesian girls; Mima and Dita (again, apologies, using their nicknames because foreign names are hard man…). Dita is an eccentric girl with energetic bursts of social conversations as well as hunger strikes every so often. She studies Japanese culture and history at Universitas Indonesia, so she’s always the one to go to when you need help with random spurs of Japanese. Mima is a rather quaint girl studying Sociology at the University of Indonesia. Quiet but calming to be around, I find her to be a great chat when I’m feeling overwhelmed with Dita’s jumpy personality. She enjoys classical music and is the type of girl you’d sit on the rooftop with at night just listening to music and staring at the stars.

AND FINALLY, driving back to Europe, a boy from France named Oussama and a German guy named Till. Till is the oldest amongst us, turning 24 next month, but knows much about European politics and is always up for anything. He studies computer science, at Aachen University in Germany and is a huge gamer; so much so he is considering live streaming his desktop from back home just to run better games! Also studying computer science, at Université Grenoble Alpes (good luck saying that in French), Oussama’s Muslim background paired with his French culture creates huge diversity to his personality–despite living in France, he’s never had a touch of wine! He loves listening to French rap and hip-hop and can, surprisingly, play ping-pong very well!

The people I’ve met so far come from different backgrounds all over the world. Despite none of them being Japanese, I would say that the past week I’ve been in Japan has already taught me lessons I would have never known had I stayed in the States. Peoples’ thoughts, actions, and beliefs vary greatly from one geographic location to the next; a joke in the United States can easily be considered insulting to someone in Indonesia (a lesson I had to learn the hard way). I don’t want to leave Japan yet, but if I had to go back to America now, I’d be very happy with the friends I’ve already made.

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