Philadelphia. Seven months detached. Some things have changed, and others remain the same. Looking back it all seems like just one long dream. Thinking about the experiences I had, I want to take this final blog post to reflect on the things I have learned while living in Japan.
Number 1: Differences are beautiful, accept them. Before I came to Japan I was not much of an otaku, nor did I have any extreme interests towards specific aspects of Japanese culture. I just had a general interest in the country, based on things I had already knew. I took the trip so that I might learn more from a first person perspective. When we are in our comfort zone we tend to do the same things that we know we like, and stick around those who are similar to us. This stifles growth and learning. I came to the realization that I would not have a comfort zone in Japan similar to the ones I had at home. Therefore, I learned how embrace cultural differences and apply them to my own living abroad. This is not to say that I compromised my own identity. I just merely developed ways to communicate and interact effectively across cultures. One night, while out with a group of friends, I look around the table. Looking back at me were faces from all parts of the world. Deep down you get a sense that everyone is connected on this Earth. Our differences don’t separate us, they are what identifies us as unique.
Number 2: Balance and Harmony. Balance seems to be an important part of Japanese culture. I got a grasp of this mentality and applied it to various aspects of my life. I began to eat healthier and stray away from sweets. I chose water or unsweetened tea over sugary, caffeinated drinks. As the days turned into weeks, it became an unconscious habit to be healthy. My time management skills also increased. Balance may sound like such a rigid, static word; but harmony accompanies it as well. I developed a go-with-the-flow mentality, and did my best to extinguish conflict among groups. I started to listen more, and be more in tune with the body language of others.
Number 3: The world is huge! I understand the size of the world differently now. Of course we all know how vast the world really is. Yet when were living in the small little complex world of our community, we sometimes forget about the outside. Living abroad, I always was aware that there was an outside, and that there were other things going on outside of my small Tokyo community. It’s an interesting feeling: to be fully engrossed in your living space and at the same time being concerned of the things going on back at home and around the world. I have grown to become more concerned about international matters in general. We are all in this world together.
From friends to family, to those I may not know personally, thank you all for following me on this seven month adventure. I encourage you to check out the other bloggers studying abroad in different countries, we all have interesting stories to tell. Lastly, I’d like to thank everyone at Temple University Education Abroad for allowing me to utilize this site as a platform to express my own personal reflections on Life in Japan. If any followers are interested in learning more about Japan from my point of view, or just have questions in general, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks again and，左様なら！