Spring is finally here in Japan. The cherry blossoms are almost in full bloom. Which means over the next few weeks I maybe invited to a few 花見 (hanami) parties by my friends. Although spring is a symbol for new beginnings, there are so many things around me that seem to be ending. The semester is finally coming to an end. Some of my Japanese friends have graduated and are now entering the working society. My study abroad friends are preparing to assimilate back into American society; everyday I see leftover Domino’s pizza boxes in the dorm trash cans, and other various American brands. Even I myself brought a few boxes of Pringle’s recently, I guess my food cravings are subconscious indicators of homesickness. Even with all of these things coming to a close around me, I feel like my adventure in Japan is still unfolding. I have decided to extend my stay for the summer semester, and take in as much as I can in these next four months.
It’s almost weird to feel accustomed to living in a place other than my home. The first six weeks just felt like an extended vacation. As time progressed, the repetitive school schedule began to reflect in my attitude. I began to feel more and more apart of the society. Unconsciously, I started to use Japanese gestures and expressions in my daily conversation, even if I was speaking in English. I developed a “Where’s Waldo” mentality; some days I felt as if I blended in to the point at which I could not be distinguished from other Japanese. Then moments later I’d snap out of it, looking around the train and seeing so many faces that don’t like mine. It almost feels like a dream.
As I write this on my birthday, reflecting back on the time spent here so far, I can say that there is one lasting lesson I’ve learned while living here. Live Life in the Moment. A year ago today I had lost all my intentions of coming to Japan. Family and friends were worried because of 3/11, and tried everything they could to persuade me not to take the flight across the Pacific. I let their thoughts get the best of me and gave up. Fortunately, I remembered months later that I had to do this. This is experience has taught me so many things I may have never realized had I let my family get the best of me. Although I have no reason to, I kind of feel selfish for being in that small percentage of college students that study abroad. My friends back at home always joke with me about how jealous they are because they are still in America. People (including myself) always have an excuse for why they can’t do something. If anything I hope that my experiences influence others to find a way around those excuses. Every college student needs to do this!