Thursday, September 25, 2014

Mapping My Route (Dylan)

Akita International University’s on a fairly small, compact campus; which isn’t at all unfamiliar to me, being a Beloit College student, but it does mean that I walk almost the exactly same route to each and every one of my classes.  This does provide for getting to know what that part of campus looks like throughout the day pretty well.

To be honest, there isn’t all that much of a notable difference.  Sure, there’s a few mildly interesting trends, but nothing to really follow up with some grand insights.  There are, however, some curiosities which can serve as jumping-off-points for other interesting commentaries on bits of AIU’s culture, so maybe I can get this post a more interesting comments section that I fear it itself will be.

Let’s start with the route I take.  To get to classes, I leave through one of the several front exits of the Komachi building complex (I don’t really have a pattern for which one; even eating in the cafeteria doesn’t change it), walk in front of most or part of the complex and past the Student Hall, and into a sort of courtyard from which every class building can be accessed.

My apologies for my drawing skills
The first half of this route is, in terms of daily trends, thoroughly uninteresting; there’s generally a scattering other students walking to this place or that, nobody really hanging around, and no real shift in this pattern throughout the day.  The couple of times I’ve walked this part at night it’s been different, but only on account of a distinct lack of people.  The last part of the walk, in the area between the classroom buildings, is generally a bit more interesting.  So long as classes are going on, this area’s always more crowded, both in terms of people walking through and with some people actually standing around talking or sitting at picnic tables.  On the other hand, when classes aren’t happening, this area can become remarkably empty, although the nearby library maintains some through traffic.

This being said, I’ve not really spent a lot of time in this area personally.  Although I do think it’s pretty on sunny days, I mostly just walk through it to get where I’m going.  I have only twice stopped and spent time there, both times because I was waiting for someone who needed to run into one building or another to “get something done quick.”  But so far as I can tell, that’s true for everybody; there’s no group or even person who I recognize as “that person who’s always around the courtyard at noon”.  I do prefer to take the outdoor route because it’s nice to spend some time outside (or because I didn’t realize that hallway connected to the classroom buildings), but that hasn’t really managed to translate into spending time in the area.  I guess there isn’t a whole lot to do most of the time, when there’s often places to be, which is unfortunate, because it’s really a nice place.

The courtyard, here mostly empty due to rain.
 There are a few observations about this area that I can offer as conversation starters.  Unfortunately, this area seems to offer a demonstration of the social divide between foreign and domestic students that exists on campus.  Strangely, this divide seems to be more noticeable but less actually distinct than the divide at Beloit College.  If ones looks around at this quasi-courtyard between classroom buildings, it seems as though there’s practically no interaction; it’s hard to spot examples of interaction between domestic and foreign students, and I think that if I was an outsider who just walk around campus every day I’d conclude that interaction must be minimal.  But I can say as a student that I have many Japanese friends, that I, and most of the other foreigners I know, do regularly hang out with domestic students, and that a large number of domestic students spend times with foreigners.  I’m not sure why it so distinctly doesn’t look like it to me, but that’s the gap I am, personally, finding.

I suppose I could've skipped all of this if I'd noticed this hallway sooner. Then again, I wouldn't have had a blog post if I did.


Crystaline Hoover said...

>this divide seems to be more noticeable but less actually distinct than the divide at Beloit College.

I'm curious: How do you perceive the divide at Beloit? I felt like there were a few groups who tended to stick together a lot, but there was still a decent amount of mixing. I knew lots of international students who had many American friends, anyway.

I suppose it's also harder to tell from afar at Beloit because there domestic and international students at Beloit aren't at all visually distinct. I don't know how many Asian international students there are at Akita, but I assume that aside from them, you can mostly tell who's Japanese and who's international by their race.

glassgourd said...

I'm not sure what the numbers are, but part of the difference might also be there because there are more international students at Beloit who are staying for fours years. I haven't met many international students here who are staying for more than a year, and I think this might make a lot of regular students more hesitant to connect with us.