June 2, 2012
By Ant’Quinette Jackson
Reflecting back on this trip and this experience, I cannot help but to think of how amazingly lucky I was to be offered the opportunity. My experience here in Japan has been nothing less of amazing, nothing short of spectacular, and overall remarkable. When applying for the SIP Japan 2012, I was not thrilled that we were going to Japan, given my little interest in the country and culture. I applied to the program because I had never left the country, and was terrified to do so. I initially thought to myself when debating on whether I should apply or not: just do it and then you can be able to say ‘I went to Japan’. How many people from a background like mine have this opportunity? Needless to say I am very grateful for this opportunity and happy that I convinced myself to apply. I’ve learned so much in two weeks about myself and so much that I can take home with me. Being on this trip with my professor and many advisors, I’ve learned so much about them and they’ve learned so much about me. I’ve never tried to establish this relationship with my professors because I felt intimidated to speak to them, I was afraid to that we didn’t have anything in common and I shied away from creating those relationships. But after two weeks of getting to know Dr. Sanchez, I’ve realized that I do not need to feel intimidated or scared because they are human too. Because of Dr. Sanchez, I have confidence to take home with me.
Not only have I learned about my personal interactions with professors, but visiting Nihon and Doshisha universities during this trip has also influenced my study abroad options. Sitting in on the classes were amazing and sparked a thought in my head. Felipe is always asking me “Are you going to study abroad?” and my routine answer I give him is “I’ll think about it” just to quiet him down until next time. But after two weeks abroad I can say that I’m actually thinking about it now. Being away from my family for two weeks was the hardest thing I could’ve done, but I was able to survive and although I missed them terribly, I know that if I can do two weeks, I can go longer. I’m very excited to return to LA so that I may begin to research longer summer session options. All in all, this trip has been amazing.
The part that I was not expecting, but absolutely loved the most was the relationships I established with all of my fellow Topping scholars. I shared the same scholarship with everyone on this trip and with many of them; I had little to no interactions with during my years at USC. I was initially scared because although we all said we are apart of this “Topping Fam”, I didn’t really know the people and so I was scared that my interactions would be awkward or I would stick to the people I knew. Being split into pods, sharing rooms, sharing similar interests, thoughts, ideas, and so on allowed me to engage in many deep conversations with my fellow scholars and to get to know them a lot more and I greatly appreciate that. In the past two weeks I have never felt more comfortable with a group of people in my life besides my family. I come out of this experience feeling like I have gained a FAMILY and I love each and every one of you guys on this trip more than you ever know. This trip has allowed me to truly understand the value and worth of being within the TOPPING FAMILY.
All in all, I had an amazing time. I got lost in Tokyo and had to go to the police, I got to do a modeling session in the Meiji Gardens for a stranger (*weird, I know), I’ve made great relationships with people, a wild deer was really close to me, but I would not trade any of these experiences for the world.
June 1, 2012
By Raul Alcantar
After visiting the Nagoya port, we went to the Osu Kannon shopping district, a location full of a variety of stores selling products ranging from leather clothing to electronics. This place is very different from the rest of Japan, especially Kyoto. For some reason, the district reminded me of callejones (alleys) back in Los Angeles with its vendors advertising back and forth. Everyone tries to make you come into their stores full of unique clothing or products. I also noticed many foreign businesses such as Italian, Brazilian, and Armenian restaurants. There was even a store called The Hood, which sold “hip-hop” products. The shopping district exemplifies the introduction of foreign cultures into Japan.
Nagoya’s port looked very different from Long Beach
Following the shopping district, we came back to Tokyo, and I realized that our trip is coming to an end. Even though we are back in the same hotel, the city itself doesn’t seem the same to me. During the past week we really got to experience all of Japan, including its traditional places and industrial cities. I’m slowly getting it into my head that we’re coming back to the US in less than two days. The last two weeks have been some of the most intellectually stimulating and culturally enriching. I love Tokyo, but it reminds me too much that we’re going back to the US.
By Kim Vu
This morning we made one last stop in Nagoya before we headed off back for Tokyo. We went for the Nagoya Port and this was the first time our 3 group pod system got one group separated from the other two. We had left during rush hour in the morning and one group had gone on the first subway we saw while the other two stopped and waited for the next subway. Because there was no reception underground, we waited a while longer and decided to meet the other group at the port. We met up with them again and went up to the observation deck. We were able to oversee the entire area from there and could spot things such as the ferris wheel, aquarium, gardens, and a huge ship below. Although Nagoya is the sister city to Los Angeles, we could see that the Port of Los Angeles is filled with many more ships and cargo for things shipped into the US from overseas whereas the Nagoya Port where we visited was a very tourist-friendly area. This area is very clean and seemed opposite of the industrial area the Port of Los Angeles is.
This day marks our last traveling together as a huge group before we head back to Los Angeles. It is crazy to at look at the 2-week trip with everything we were scheduled to do on our itinerary. Looking back now, it seems like we have done and learned countless things and although the days seemed sometimes long with activities, it has also gone by fast. I myself have taken almost 2,000 photos on this trip and although I am excited to explore and do my own research by traveling on my own tomorrow, I can already find myself missing everyone and the experiences we’ve shared. This will only be the beginning to opening our minds by comparing and traveling the world for our studies!