Tag Archives: Japan

Proud endings and hopeful beginnings

…yes, in that order.

As you may, or may not know; the Japanese school calendar begins in April and ends in February. This means that the Spring Break for Japanese students is equivalent to the Summer Holidays in the UK. As a result, I was able to attend the graduation ceremony for the final year students I worked with and the entrance ceremony for the new group of freshmen.

It takes work to look this good

It takes work to look this good

The graduation ceremony was a grand affair. The students were dressed in their finery (most of the girls in beautiful 着物 and 袴) and the university was adorned with fine displays of flowers.


The ceremony itself was VERY formal with a strict schedule and very traditional execution. It was a great insight into the culture of Japan to witness it and a proud moment to see the successful students pleased to accept the proof of their hard work.


Of course no graduation would be complete without a celebratory ball and this Japanese university is no exception! I was lucky enough to be invited along and share in the fun! The party was held in a very swanky hotel in Shijuku and all organised by the students.

If you look REALLY closely, you can just see me in the back.

If you look REALLY closely, you can just see me in the back.

They all looked fantastic in their (different) best outfits and the buffet was delicious (you thought I might make a blog without mention of food huh… nope). There were performances by talented student musicians and speeches from the elected class representatives. It was really a wonderful evening.

Would it be a Ryan blog without food? Maybe, but it would be a sad one...

Would it be a Ryan blog without food? Maybe, but it would be a sad one…

Just a week later, I found myself working in the team ushering the new freshmen into the hall for the welcome ceremony. They were all dressed in formal suits and I can only describe the average facial expression as equal parts hope and fear. I wonder if that’s what I looked like on my first day at uni?

I certainly don’t think so, but I like to hope I looked half as happy to be there as these new smiling students did. Just three weeks later they are all settling in well and proving to be a pleasure to teach. I only wish I had more time here to see them through to their eventual proud graduation day!

If I were where you are now again – 5 top tips for working abroad

So, as second year students reading this blog, you’re probably being constantly bombarded with adverts for placements; advice from final years; and being badgered by your tutors to choose your placement!

I remember that situation. Now that I am here, in the middle of my placement (wow, have I been in Japan nearly six months already!?) I am looking back. Since hindsight is 20/20, I have been thinking about what I wish I knew before I left my comfy little flat in Birmingham!

1. Learn how to feed yourself.

What I mean by this is that you may know how to stick a ready meal in the oven; mix the contents of a can with some bread; or even bake a mean banana loaf (trust me, mine is to die for). All of your food knowledge so far is probably very UK-centric.

In Japan, space is a rare comodity

In Japan, space is a rare commodity


Less is more… right?







What if this were your kitchen? Would you know what things can be cooked in a toaster oven? Would you have any idea what ingredients to buy to make something edible with a hot plate? How about including fibre in your diet when a box of cereal is three times the price?

Doing a little bit of homework before embarking on the placement would have helped me be healthier in my first couple of months. I dove right in the deep end and learned the hard way!

Continue reading