Zoe Sofianos: Life Lessons in the Strangest of Places

This reverence for ceremony and the very zen idea of paying close observation to every movement or change is found in Japanese tea ceremony (called "sadou") or "way of tea".

The simple act of making tea and drinking it has many micro rules placed on it down to the amount of times you turn the tea bowl after you drink from it (3 times turning the bowl in your left palm with your right hand, counter-clockwise). The attention to every detail by the preparer of the cup of tea is beautiful. A swirl of the bamboo whisk inside the bowl is carefully ended on an upward motion to catch any drips. It’s a slowing down of time, a rebellion against hastiness and absent-minded acting. In the end you get what you came in for: a cup of tea. But it has been transformed.

I find myself trying to appreciate more detail these days. I’ve slowed myself down in some ways, to appreciate what I’m doing in the current moment and live a little more Japanese zen. I see women carefully folding their re-usable bags before tucking them away instead of stuffing them in a purse pocket. So I started to fold my plastic grocery bags instead of scrunching them up.

People never eat while they walk here. They either just walk, or sit down and eat. One sunny Saturday when I had no homework, I bought an ice cream to enjoy on a bench in the park. I didn’t play with my phone, or even read, I just looked around and quietly ate my cone. The ice cream was really, really good.

If I come away from this exchange trip with a greater sense of care and attention for the smallest things in life, then my study abroad experience has been well worth it. I already have noticed more around me in the months I’ve been here than in the past semester back home, hurrying through my busy life at school. Of course my environment is new here, so I’ll have to make a little more effort once I’m back home.
Care, attention, reverence for ceremony even in the smallest of things. Perhaps it’s too much to ask for every sip of coffee to change my life, but if I can make the choice of truly enjoying it, then it could change my living in distraction and daydreams to living the present, the here and now.

Zoe Sofianos is an Illustration and Design (IDEA) student at Capilano University. Zoe is studying abroad at Hokkaido College of Art & Design (BISEN) in Sapporo, Japan.


Popular posts from this blog

London Field School 2018 - Maryam, Larissa, and Lauren

Studying Abroad: Fastest Five Months!

Diana Do: MCI Summer School in Innsbruck, Austria