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An Unforgettable University Exchange In Kyoto

ExchangeWelcome960A unique, remarkable experience was gifted to students of the Spring 2015 voyage, the opportunity to participate in a university exchange with Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto. A day booked full of student interactions and cultural sight seeing, began with a stroll through Ritsumeikan campus and journey to Ryoan-ji Temple in Kyoto.

As the group headed towards the temple, the Japanese students expressed that they were eager to act as “local guides” and show the Semester at Sea students around the city. Many Ritsumeikan students offered that they too were visiting the Kyoto monumental sites for a first or far-removed second time, and were equally excited to see the spiritual sites and experience them with curious visitors.

Students swap stories as they enter The Golden Pavilion

Friendships formed quickly as the two groups of university students began to immediately start asking each other questions and mingling. With Semester and Sea students participating from all over the globe, the Ritsumeikan students had many inquiries and a variety of responses. Enthusiasm and delight sparkled in the eyes of the students, as the students asked the questions that they had anxiously been awaiting answers, “How do you say ‘excuse me’ in Japanese” and “’Where did you learn to speak such impeccable English?” Raisa Alstodta, from Saint Leo University, explained, “what a great opportunity to see Kyoto through the eyes of the Japanese students. I thoroughly enjoyed how kind and welcoming they all were.”

The Ritsumeikan students were also excited to use their English and were readied with questions for the students. As the group gazed at the famous Golden Pavilion, the Japanese students wondered about life back in their home country and curiosities about the upcoming stops on the Spring 2015 voyage. The day concluded with a shared sushi dinner and games. While playing the “I love you” game, students gushed over one another, proclaiming their love, all while trying not to laugh—memories that will stay with both parties forever.

University exchange participants from Ritsumeikan University and Semester at Sea

Ana Filipovic, from Hood College in Maryland, reflected on her unforgettable time in Kyoto and new friends, ‚ÄúThe university exchange was a great way to meet the Japanese culture. Meeting students that live and attend a Japanese university helped me to learn about students’ similarities and differences across cultures. I also believe I made some life-long friends. The last day in Japan, I met up with Maria, one of the students who hosted us in Kyoto, and we spent a day together in Osaka and had so much fun!‚Äù

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