Hi everyone, I’m Jenna. I’m a first year PEAK student from New Zealand, and I came to Japan in January 2021. Often I find myself in situations where I ask myself, ‘How did I get here??’ Today I’m going to try to answer this question about how I came to be in the hockey club.
When you move to a new place and start a new chapter of your life, you get to choose how you want your life to be; do you want to spend your time studying? With friends? Having adventures? Finding the balance of your life is a challenge that probably never ends. I like to have a good balance: as little study as I can get away with, meeting lots of new people, exploring new places, working on projects with passionate people, and spending time in the outdoors. When I first moved to Tokyo, I found it really difficult to feel like I was going outside. I would go for a run, but with buildings all around me, it didn’t feel like I was outside at all. I also wanted to meet more Japanese students. I see international students all the time, but it’s harder to interact with local students because of the language barrier. But I didn’t want that to stop me; did I come to Japan just to talk to other foreigners? And if I was never around Japanese speakers, I was never going to learn Japanese.
I turned to hockey because it was the one sport I was familiar with (apart from ultimate frisbee, which I cannot play because the university team is men only- despite ultimate frisbee being founded on the principle that both genders must be on the field at all times), as I had played it for a few years when I was younger. I wasn’t particularly good at the sport, so I never thought that I would play hockey again, and I think my family was quite surprised when I told them that I was thinking of playing again. But hockey means that I am outside for hours each week; hours when I don’t have to think about the zillion other things happening in my life, hours when I can see my teammates and fellow first-years.
This hockey team is worlds different to how I’ve played hockey before: bowing before and after practise, rigid practise schedules, changing into your hockey shoes at the pitch; but I didn’t come to Japan for more of the same. The people here are great, from other first years who put up with my incessant questions about new Japanese words that I hear, to seniors who take the time to exchange a few words in English with me; everyone has made me feel very welcome. My goal is to be able to speak more Japanese over time to be able to talk to more people!
I’m looking forward to playing more hockey with everyone and having a great time while doing it :)