Saturday, July 23, 2016

Down memory lane at ICU, the International Christian University, in Tokyo


Today I decided to visit the International Christian University (ICU), which is the school I did my junior year abroad program in, in Japan a couple of lifetimes ago, already living a #Travelife.

ICU is famous in Japan as the school with the most beautiful campus. It's large and full of nature everywhere. The photo above, for example, looks like a walking path in a Meiji-era forest. But this is the very same path I used to take every single day, hurrying from my dormitory room to my classroom when I was at school -- and it's still there.

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A SCHOOL FOR A PRINCESS

ICU was also very well known as a school for Japanese with some kind of international background, so it was always a rather cool school to go to, full of young people who'd been all around the world and who could easily speak several languages fluently.

These days, the school is still in the news, as one of the most popular of Japan's princesses decided to attend school at ICU, thus further increasing the number of young people who also want to study here.

SOME THINGS STAY THE SAME.
INCLUDING THE PRICE OF CURRY RICE.


We went on a whim to ICU today, and I was very happily surprised to discover that nothing much had changed since I once attended classes here, save for a couple of dormitory buildings and new classroom buildings. 

And, oh yes, there's now a swanky new cafeteria at ICU compared to the pretty basic cafeteria we used to have when I was going to school here. Interestingly, the prices of the cafeteria food have not changed as drastically as I would have expected.



I somehow recalled that the height of extravagance during my time at school was to have a big plate of Japanese curry rice for lunch, and this cost somewhere between 180 yen to 230 yen.

When I looked at the menu board at the cafeteria today, curry rice was being sold for 300 yen. How's that for incredibly moderate inflation?

LIVING IN A DORMITORY ON CAMPUS
IN JAPAN



The biggest change at ICU is that my dormitory is being torn down and replaced.

I have many interesting memories of this dormitory experience, especially as this was my first time to share a room with someone else, as I always had my own room at home; as well as my first stab at housekeeping.

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Japanese-style, all the dorm residents all had to pitch in to keep our dormitory clean via a rotation schedule, and these cleaning duties initially gave me real grief.

And I kept burning my clothes with the iron, too. Now I realize how helpful that early housekeeping training was, of course.

AN ANTIQUATED TELEPHONE SYSTEM.
AND LOTS OF BOYS CALLING.



The other interesting memory involves all the boys who called up our dorm looking for their friends living there, as our dorm was an all-girls' dormitory.

We only had one antiquated telephone in the dormitory then, you see, as this was the pre-mobile phone era, and many of the girls waiting anxiously for certain boys to call would do their schoolwork in the living room.

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about our latest issue

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Having been raised in Manila, I never waited in the living room like the others but went about my business in my room on the third floor until someone called.

Whenever a boy called up, there was no chance of missing the call anyway, as his name and the name of the girl he was calling for would be announced over the loudspeaker for everyone to hear. So we all knew who the popular girls were, and the names of the boys trying to go out with them.

THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS
IN TOKYO


I was very lucky to be assigned a dormitory room on campus, as this meant my classes were all something like a three-minute walk away and I was able to live inside the most beautiful campus in Japan.

So I kept all my books and school things at the dormitory, in a room I had to share with two Japanese girls who did all they could to make me feel at home in Japan. They even took me out for dinner to a restaurant called Ma Maison, which was just about the most chic restaurant in our part of the backwoods, back then, on my first birthday away from home.

AN APARTMENT NEAR
THE IMPERIAL PALACE


Unfortunately I was not the type to stay put -- even back then. So I created a best-of-both-worlds situation wherein I stayed in my dorm room on weekdays, and then I took an apartment in the center of Tokyo for the weekends. 

Being on campus all week was just way too quiet an existence for me, and I'm sure my two roommates were completely perplexed by me.

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When I recalled this experience to my companion today, he teased me: "What a spoiled brat you were."

Actually, I was more of a resourceful brat than a spoiled one. Yes, it was unthinkable to have this very lucky situation particularly then and even now, but somehow I found a way to do it.

My weekend apartment in Tokyo was just near the Imperial Palace as well, so my Sunday morning jogging track was one round around the palace, even back then, already living a #Travelife.


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