Monday, 13 April 2009

Signs of the New Year- sono 2

One of my courses this term is at a different campus from my usual stomping grounds. So, one day a week I'll be jetting off to the "newbie" campus, where first and second year undergrad courses for arts and humanities are held. The main campus is full of over stressed grad students, apathetic undergrads, and undergrads in suits attempting to find jobs while they supposedly finish off their last year of university.

The newbie campus is in general much softer, more user friendly. It isn't in downtown Tokyo, has big gates, and plenty of greenery in between the buildings. This time of year it is also full of fresh-faced happy, relaxed first year students. They've finally gotten through all the years of studying, especially the last crunch of the hell that is university entrance examinations. They are now university students, at a well-known and prestigious univerisity. Some of them may be living on their own for the first time, but even if they are still at home, they are experiencing a large amount of freedom for the first time in a long, long time. They sit in the sun on benches laid out around campus and chat with their friends.

And, just so you don't think that ALL Japanese university students are apathetic, that there are no serious and motivated students, I present you with exhibit A - two young women who all but ran me over (which is no mean feat, I walk QUICKLY and have a big stride) and then dodged around me and a few others who had the temerity to walk at normal human pace. The two girls then pelted up the escalator, shouting out to each other "room 403 - that's the FOURTH floor!!!" The look of abject horror on the face of one of the girls as she looked at her watch and realized that she either had to teleport herself immediately to the 4th floor or face having to enter the first class of the term (before most students have actually registered for any of their classes) an astonishing one minute late!! Ohhhh, the horror! (this contrasts sharply with the large number of students who have no problem sauntering in 45 minutes late for a 80 minute class...).

One thing, however, I'm going to have to recant my statement that this negates that not all Japanese students are apathetic - I'm fairly sure the two girls were foreign students because they shifted into what sounded like Chinese to me as they raced up the escalator to the fourth floor. Whatever their nationality, the earnestness of the two had me smiling like and indulgent granny at a toddler's antics.

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