The circles started to withdraw their tables by the 3rd week of April, and other new students were already settling into tennis circles of their choice. I almost gave up my search and joined a tennis circle when I found a table with non-intimidating female students. I asked them where the computer building was, but I also wanted to chat with them.
They were a volunteering/event organizing circle that supported international students at Waseda. There were exchange students from the US and UK, who stayed only for a year and had a separate course. The majority of other international students enrolled in the full program or the master program and sat in classes with Japanese students. They came from all over the world, but Korean and Chinese students seemed to have had large communities. The circle had helped them when they first arrived in Japan, organized social events, and worked together at Waseda Festival in autumn to raise money from selling their county’s fast food. Many of the Japanese members also had done study abroad programs themselves or had grown up overseas.
I was planning to apply for the exchange program, so I figured it’d be beneficial to be involved in their events. But the practicality aside, the women I spoke to at the table were extremely friendly (as they should be due to the nature of their activity) and treated me like I was already an essential part of the circle. They listened to me and were interested in me. I felt welcomed immediately. That evening, I attended their welcome drinks, and I was to meet people with whom I continue to be friends to this day.