By Erika Clark
Have you heard of Harvard, Cambridge or even Ewha? If you are one of those people who have visited the aforementioned list of tourist friendly universities, don`t forget Waseda!
Waseda University was founded by the 17th prime minister of Japan in 1882 and since then, Waseda has amassed an alumni network that consist of seven former prime ministers, Senkichiro, a famous English scholar, the founder of electronic giant Samsung, gaming giant Square and even the president of Nintendo.
So what`s there to see? Firstly, Waseda is right smack in the ramen town of Takadanobaba (a name so difficult to pronounce that it sounds more like a tongue twister). So if you are around the area for some ramen, come by to see this historic university and experience campus life.
Understand and appreciate the current fashion trends by taking a break on one of the school benches. Forget about Harajuku. For this is how regular Japanese youth dresses. No outrageous outfits or lavish hair styles, although you do get the occasional foreign students going Harajuku style on campus.
Venture close to the SILS Faculty (School of International Liberal Studies) and you will hear Japanese students conversing in English. Not Japanese English but British or American English. This is because classes in SILS are in English and it is also why foreign students congregate here.
Occasionally, there may be mini rallies or political protest, voicing their opinions and encouraging others to change. There will be activists giving out pamphlets on what they hope to achieve and how Japan should change for the better. Nothing hostile, so don’t worry!
The canteen in the school provides affordable meals and outsiders like me are able to dine in as well. The canteen runs on the concept of a buffet, along the lines of how you get about buying your food in IKEA. First, you pick and choose the food you want, then proceed to the cashier for payment. Everything is self service and you have to clean up after yourself as well. If you are looking to experience life in a Japanese University, the canteen is one of the places to go.
Similar to universities like Harvard, there is a University Co-Op store for you to purchase everything Waseda. So the next time you return back from Japan, don’t forget to get grab some Waseda merchandise in the store and wear it around your home town!
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Experiences, Experiences Experiences! or if you like, Experencia, Experencia, Experencia! The only thing I seek for while traveling is to gain experiences. Why? Well, travelling provides us with the platform to learn, and the more people you meet, the more you understand the underbelly of the country. The more local food that you eat, the more you understand their culinary delights. The more time you spend in a country, the more you become a local. In the end, you learn and that`s what I`m seeking for. To learn and to grow, and to share it with you:)