New Beginnings and Sakura Trees

Sarah Noah
Major: Japanese, Travel & Tourism
Ritsumeikan University, Japan

It is my favorite time of the year! Spring has finally come to Japan! That means warmer days, a bit more rain, but most importantly: sakura.  Especially the first couple days of April have produced beautiful cherry blossoms almost everywhere in Kyoto.  Even on campus I was surprised to see so many sakura trees in bloom. Hopefully the coming rain will not wash away the petals before the first day of school.

cat and sakuraNow you may have read that last sentence and thought I was joking.  First day of school? Isn’t it April? Shouldn’t you be finishing your second semester already?  To answer your questions, yup, yes, and nope!  The way the Japanese school system works, students actually start their school year in the spring. But because I came here from the American system, I started my first semester in October, when most Japanese students were starting their second semester.  Also unlike America which has one big summer break and usually a small winter break, Japan has one large spring break and another big break from around August to September. So while most of my friends back in the States have been going to class and studying for tests, I’ve been travelling around Japan and enjoying time off.  But all good things must come to an end; classes start on Thursday.

The start of a new semester means new people.  In my international dorm, we got about fifteen new residents from all over the world.  It has been a blast getting to know everyone and showing them the ropes.  We have organized sakura viewing trips, showed them how to get to school, and had a fun welcome party.  Everybody seems really awesome and I’m forever grateful that I have this opportunity to meet people from every corner of the globe.  I hope we can all enjoy spring together as we brace ourselves for the infamous Kyoto summer.

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