Waseda University’s Circles

An essential part of the Japanese college experience is joining student circles/clubs where many students find their lifelong friends and social groups. Waseda University offers a variety of different circles that range from sports to music and international student societies. Since there are many different kinds of circles/clubs to choose from, it can be hard to find the right one that is suitable for you.

As an international student, it might also be worth to keep in mind that not all of the circles/clubs have English speaking members, but for most cases, Japanese students are happy when they get the chance to meet international students and practice their English. It might be a little intimidating at first especially if you are not confident with your Japanese skills, but most Japanese students are very friendly and encourage international students to join them even though sometimes it might start off with a little bit of awkwardness. Most Japanese students are shy with the exception of a few, so it would be really nice if you could muster up the courage first and strike-up a conversation with them. Don’t be shy and make a lot of new friends.

Recruitment day at Waseda University

A Chance Encounter

I’ve always wanted to participate and join one of the circles in Japan like those in animes and mangas I’ve repeatedly seen and read before, but when I finally got the chance to join one, I wasn’t able to make a decision. Luckily, I met Kana, and she introduced me to Waseda International Club (WIC). Without her, I would have probably not have made many memorable experiences and made the friends that I have now. I met Kana during her study abroad program in the U.S. where I was working as a mentor for a short-term English Program also known as STEP.

What is Waseda International Club (WIC)?

WIC is one of the major international student’s society at Waseda University that was established and officially recognized by the school in 1956. WIC has continued to foster interpersonal adventures which deepen the mutual understanding between international students and Japanese students for over five decades. Throughout the years, WIC served as the first stepping stone in cultural exchange for international student in the hope that they may stumble upon a home through their events. They have a variety of activities all year long, but their three biggest events are “yataimura” (Food village), speech contest for international students, and short homestay (SHS) which gives the students a chance to experience what Japanese families are like.

International students at speech contests
WIC members and participants group picture at Okuma lecture hall

Aside from events, they also have two exciting field trips which are the ski trip and the summer trip (information varies from year to year) which is an excellent chance to get to know everyone and create unforgettable memories that would last for a lifetime. Also, if you are feeling a little lonely or just simply don’t want to eat your lunch alone, WIC members usually gather at the lounge on the first floor of building 15 every day. WIC members are all nice and friendly and would love to have a chat with you so feel free to drop-in anytime between the second period to the fifth period. If you are unsure who is a WIC member, try to find a pink briefcase on the table and that’s where everyone should be.

SNowboard trip for international students
Ski trip with WIC members at Tohoku

My Unique Experience With WIC

It hasn’t been that long ever since I decided to join WIC, but I already know that I made the right decision. Even though I was intimidated at first, I am glad that the first club I joined was WIC. Participating in their events, I was able to meet and become friends with a bunch of amazing people who will always be there whenever I need a little push when things get hard. If you are planning on studying abroad at Waseda University, I highly recommend joining WIC because you won’t be able to find a group of amazing people that are more friendly, supportive, patient with international students, and most of all lovable people as them.

Students are preparing for Waseda sai
WIC members hard at work in preparation for yataimura

The first time I participated in WIC was during “yataimura” a food village which is an annual event held by WIC every October during the month. This event is one of their big events that need many people to help out with the preparations so don’t hesitate to come and help out. Almost every day everyone is meticulously making costumes, painting their signboards or planning on what to sell on the booth, and the atmosphere was never dull; it is an amazing experience. The exciting part about this event is that they divide the members into four different groups and make them compete with each other. Each group would be evaluated based on the quality of their food, costume, signboard, and sales. Come and join for a friendly competition with WIC members.

Students are wearing their costumes for the event
WIC’s Tanabata group members

The cooperation and hard work of everyone makes this event the perfect place to bond with each other and also gives members the chance to get closer with each other. Personally, I was fortunate that the leader of my group was very friendly and easy to get along. I couldn’t have asked for a better and more helpful leader than her. Also, the big celebration after the event is definitely not one to miss out on. It’s the reward for working hard for almost a month and a half.

Tanabata group picture with Waseda University's Mascot
Tanabata group picture with Waseda university’s mascot

Japanese Language Barrier

International students with limited Japanese language skills may find it very intimidating to join a circle/club. Some circles specialized in international exchange that uses both English and Japanese like WIC, but for the most part, everyone uses only Japanese on a day to day basis. It sounds difficult, but don’t let it discourage you from joining. It is definitely a life-changing experience, and many circles are excited to meet new international students and include them in their activities. This is also a good chance for you to polish and improve your Japanese. Make every minute count.

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