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Iya field studies

This is my 6th field studies, every year we visit a new place with a different adventure, a different experience, and a different story. I think that field studies is a chance for us to explore more of the Japanese culture. This is my first time traveling to Iya and also knowing about this place.

Iya is one of Japan’s Three Hidden Valleys, it is known for the dramatic mountain scenery, traditional homes and vine bridges. I also learned that it was a hiding place for the fleeing samurai of the defeated Heike clan from centuries past.

This trip was an adventure and also a challenge, especially because I am not so use to be living in a place with so little population. Quietness and nature was all around us every second, very different from the city.

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The most memorable part of this trip was the stay at the top of Tsurugisan and the hike down. The scenery from the top was so beautiful, it was absolutely staggering, it almost looked heavenly. It was like we were standing on an island surrounded by a great sea of clouds. The air was so fresh and crisp, although I have to say that I was freezing, I think everyone was freezing. So cold! I was regretful that I did not bring more layers. Not minding the cold temperature, I still insisted to go see the stars that night. The wind was whirling so hard, it almost knocked me over a few times! As I reached the star watching spot someone was shouting through the wind “OMG! We are in the clouds!”. I looked around, it was amazing! We all lay down in a row, one next to another and looked at the stars. I was enjoying this moment so much that my shivers went away. As we all lay still chatting and enjoying the stars and the loud wind. Before we realised the fog and clouds surrounded us, you couldn’t even see the edge of the mountain anymore! It was like I was in a dream or a mysterious place. I could never forget this moment. The hike down the next day was an adventure. The route was much more intense than hiking up. We actually walked over mountains and crossed rivers. It kind of felt like we were on some kind of survival trip. The hike felt like forever at that time, but when we finished I still couldn’t believe we finished the hike.

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12231228_975353865836443_2007752175_nAlso, the very kind people there who we met along the trip. The last day was as well a very meaningful day, it was a cultural day where we experienced making soba from scratch, visiting a traditional thatch-roofed house, rope making out of straw and not to mention the delicious meal which includes the soba made by ourselves. Every minute made this a memorable trip. Not only I got to explore a new place, but I also adopt skills and got the chance to really understand my friends more.

 

STICH event – Speech on friendship

On April 10th 2015, I participated in the STICH event which was held by Student council, where I was given the opportunity to give a speech in front of teachers and students. Our speeches were to be around 5 min and was on any topic we wanted.

After deciding to sign up for the event, I spent a long time thinking about what to talk about, although we were free to choose our topic, it was important to choose a topic that I was actually interested in, and is interesting for the audience. I came across many topics I could talk about, such as recycling, gender equality, and food. Then I landed on the topic of friendship. I have heard many speeches about topics such as recycling, gender equality, health and global issues, but it is not so often I hear speeches about how people feel about friendship although it is an important part of your life. My friends are very important to me, which is one of the reasons why I chose this topic.

I really like sharing my ideas and presenting my opinions, but I am usually very shy speaking in front of many people, so it took courage for me to speak. I was very nervous before I got on stage so I was practicing my lines over and over until I thought I was quite ready, but once I got on stage I was not as nervous but my mind went completely blank for a minute, I completely forgot what I was planning to say. I was panicking inside but I started to speak anyway, I did look at my notes for reminders but most of the speech was not quite like what I planned.

I thought that this event was a good experience because I will definitely be doing various speeches throughout my life again, which made this a great chance to practice my speech skills in front of a larger audience. As well as being more confident in presenting my ideas and have many people just focusing on myself.

While I was doing the speech, I was also noticing other people’s reactions towards what I was saying. I felt like the audience was able to get what I was saying, and relate to their selves. Since my speech was on a topic which is quite personal to me, I felt nervous talking about how I felt and was also a little concerned about what people would think about what I was saying. However, I learned that If you talk about something you actually care about, something that actually matters to you, and interests you, the audience will immediately be engaged in your speech and feel like it is worth listening to you speak.