Studying Architecture Abroad at Temple Japan
Written by Giang Phung, BSArch’18
Four months! I have been in Japan for that long and yet, it seems like yesterday when I first landed at Narita. Japan has been reviving my excitement with its vibrancy, so constantly that I lose track of time for there is always something new to take in, always something captivating that awakes all my senses. I have felt this way before, when I first arrived in the U.S. just two years ago, because then it hit me, I was on the other side of the globe! Being placed in an entirely different environment, I could see what I see in a tremendously mindful way as I burst out of my own little bubble, my comfort zone where I used to take things for granted. Here and now in Tokyo, again, I feel so much alive!
I have been trying to do something new every day and the past four months was full of experiences I have never had anywhere else.
I and my architecture friends lived in a shared house where we were lucky enough to have the entire floor for ourselves. Everything is tiny as expected, yet, what I did not expect is that the separation between the house and the street is merely a thin glass door! I have heard Japan is safe but I did not know it is that safe of a place to have a such a fragile boundary between inside and outside. But yes, I could not ask for a better place since it was close to school, subway station, super markets,…
TUJ is small but cozy. I made new friends quickly here since we could not go very far from one another anyway. This semester was more or less a break from schoolwork for me as I took only three classes, one studio, one ARCH elective and one Gen-Ed. I managed to fit all the classes on Tuesday and Thursday so that I could do my internship on MWF. Before coming to Japan, I contacted my studio professor Jim for help with connecting to an architecture firm and by the time I got to Tokyo, I could start working right away. This is my first internship ever so Jim, if you are reading this, thank you so so much again!! You should know how grateful I am! The firm is small but so international that only the head architect and his assistant are Japanese, the rest share no common nationality! And since it is a small firm, they always need help with something so I got a chance to work on a variety of projects of different phases, from fixing CAD drawings to building physical models. I did not do the internship for credits so even though the semester ended, I am now still working for the firm, until I leave Japan in June.
My week was filled up with school work and the internship already, yet, of course there was always room for fun activities. TUJ organized a list of activities for us throughout the entire semester so almost every week, we had something to look forward to, such as an overnight ski trip in the beginning of the semester, another overnight trip to a hotspring town, or one-day activities like calligraphy, sumo tournament, strawberry picking… Thank you TUJ for organizing all these! I signed up for every activity and enjoyed every single one. Also, I joined TUJ Cycling Club which had a lot of cycling trips in and outside Tokyo, and even got a chance to participate in a 50km cycling race in April, definitely the kind of thing I have never done before! In addition, our architecture professors also planned out a lot of field trips for us, to either as close as within Tokyo, or as far as Nikko! Our architecture classes had only us, seven students so whether it was a class day or field trip day, we received a lot of attention from our professors and this was the first semester that I felt this close to my professors! I know I have said this a lot but thank you Jim and Deanna for everything!
And of course, beside these well-organized trips were our own spontaneous ones that without which my experience in Japan would not be complete. The architecture gang did enjoy our time here to the fullest. I could go on forever about my experience in Japan, where I have left a piece of my soul…