So you've made it to ICU! Congratulations! Allow us to applaud you for making the decision to be part of this unique international environment that ICU offers. We're sure you're excited to take your first steps into this new world and meet people from different cultures and backgrounds. It won't be easy... but we assure you it will be fun. All you need is a dose of postive attitude, a desire to make friends, an open mind and this little step-by-step guide that we have created just for you. So if you're ready to make friends and enjoy your life at ICU, take a deep breath and dive in!
So what is this guide really?
This website is dedicated to newcomers and those who may still feel like newcomes to the ICU environment. Our goal is to present a step-by-step guide to allow you to make the most of ICU's culturally diverse community and help you build genuine friendships that go beyond languages and borders. :)
How do I use this guide?
It's simple! This guide consists of five parts:
3. Initial Meetings
4. Everyday Conversations/ Manners
5. Social Interaction
We are presenting these steps in the form of a staircase, wherein each part represents a single step. Feel free to move up and down the staircase depending on your own needs. We suggest starting from the very first step for maximum learning experience. (Besides, don't we all take the first step when we climb the stairs?) Read each module carefully and try not to skip any of the steps!
About the creators
This website is the product of the joint efforts of April, September and OYR students for our Intercultural Communication and Relations class. That being said, you need not worry that this guide would not be applicable to you. We've all been there, done that. Trust us in this one.
Courtney Smith: an OYR from California! I owe a lot of my understanding of the Japanese culture to this project :)
Daisuke Nakamura: a super super senior April student. Never studied abroad, but loves american culture.
Katrina Soliman, 113890: an OYR from the Philippines. This is her first time abroad, and she's LOVING it.
Masumi Moto: 09 September student, majoring in Education! I lived in USA (MA) for 8 years and graduated hs there. I think I can understand both Japanese and American culture! and of course, I can accept both!
Megumi Sato: a sophomore April student, and studied at Toronto by SEA program. I love talking with people even who have different cultures!
Miki Kansai: April student. Don't worry! If you are poor English or Japanese speakers, somebody support you like this company supports me.
Yoshimi: 08 September student. I lived in Canada for 2 years and graduated Canadian public high school. I can accept both cultures and of course I have curiousty in ANY CULTURE.
For the conclusion, it has been decided that everyone will write a paragraph about their own experiences about barriers and making friends at ICU. (please post this on the "intro" page on the wiki as soon as possible!) ← This page?
Miki: When I become a freshman at ICU, I was little bit nervous. I warried whether I could have good relationships with students who are younger than me (=making friends) or not, because I am older than other freshmans and I am not a good English speaker. I did not mind how old friends are or good speakers, but I thought that they may mind how old friends are or good speakers. This thinking is my barrier to make friends. Although there are not many, I have good friends here now. I am very satisfied with it. Through this group work, I think that it is not that barriers have already presented. Barriers are made by you and me. In addition what I learn it is that knowing and appreciating the differnces amoung people prevent us from barriers.
Megumi: I entered ICU with wish for making many non-Japanese friends. However, April, September, and OYR students have their own groups; there are big barriers. I thought if I spent my ICU life with only April students, it would be really hard to make other cultural freiends. Therefore, I tried to speak with OYR students at Bakayama, in class, and Library. Even though I was not a good English speaker, they talked with pleasure. Now, I have many friends all over the world. In addtion, my friends and I have cultural differences. In order to keep good relationships, we always try to understand each other, and talk a lot. With a little courage and comprehensive mind, you can make good relationships with people who are in other culture!! Just do it☆
Katrina: Being neither a native speaker of English nor Japanese and considering that my stay in ICU would only be for a year, I was kinda hesitant about making friends. However, entering ICU somehow changed my perspective on things. My world suddenly expanded and I knew I had to pick either of these two choices: to shut myself from this new world or take the risk and discover what it has to offer. I chose the latter and I'm glad I did. I learned that you don't have to be afraid of making mistakes or try so hard to be someone you're not to make friends. Just be yourself, be open-minded and don't let all your differences freak you out. Lastly, don't let your broken Japanese/English hold you down! Believe me, most people don't mind! It's your willingness to make friends that counts!
Courtney: Breaking all the barriers and climbing all the steps on your own is a scary thing. And no one can live without others, which is why you must seek out people who are also interested in crossing barriers and cultures, because mutual motivation is the only that can truly break down walls between cultures and even groups within cultures. In some cases, you will have to change, and in some cases, it will be the other people who will change, and you can't just "be yourself" and expect to successfully fit into another culture. It takes effort and courage...you WILL make mistakes, and end up looking silly sometimes, but it's a small price to pay if at the end of the day you can call a foreign culture "home."
Masumi: If everyone at ICU is so desperate to make friends, don't you think that ALL the students at ICU are friends at first sight (although not love at first sight)? Why is it not possible to become friends with all the people in the same university? At first, they are all strangers…but we have all entered ICU with the same goal – study and graduate. There are similarities. Of course, there are differences, too. Different personality, hobbies, fashions, taste, interaction, culture… but because the similarities and differences coexist, there are varieties of people. When you get to know someone, don’t miss the chance of becoming more familiar with each other – keep in contact! People will love you, so don’t be afraid to meet new people – it changes the whole world around you and even your future! Thanks a lot to my group, my friends!
Daisuke: I've held a party for OYRs last September, and more than 40 people attended the party.(mostly OYRs) Why could I meet that many OYRs? Because I really wanted to be friend with them, and also I really liked to hang out with them. Of course you need energy or efforts to get close with them, but if you are highly motivated, it's like nothing. Because energy or efforts means just go out with them and it should be fun! They are always "open" for you. If you want a chance, find a voluntray work for JLP. Once you make a friend, you will be the friend's friends. Or you can dive into their community. Which I did, and it was exciting!
Yoshimi: ICU is not the only place that has barriers making friends. From my experience in Canada, there definitely were barriers between local students and international students in Canada. And, of course, we would face unexpected barriers anywhere we go... man and women, old and young, handsome and ugly (just kidding) etc... However, We can learn how to deal with it and try to improve the situation! Our members, we all had luckily strong motivation to make friends from various cultures so that we became really good friends through this project. If you have strong motivation, it's there. I hope our website helps you to make friends at ICU and wherever you go.
Jin: The international environment that ICU has is very unique. I came into ICU, expecting some kind of an international culture like an melting pot. But however, I've found out that the groups were bordered between the foreigners and April students, and there were not much people who could pass through those barriers existing between the groups. I was also one of those who wanted to make friends with OYRs, but didn't know how to go beyond the barrier. This is why I presented this title of "Making friends beyond the barriers". What we've earned through the group discussion, with a wide variety of members including OYRs, April, ex-Shakaijin, super-super-senior, September students, was very fruitful. I realized how mutual understanding is important in intercultural communication, and each discussion was full of new findings. I hope our project will be an useful tip to your step beyond the barrier!