I cannot believe that I have been here for two months. This second month passed by even quicker than the first. Midterms are practically over and Study Abroad Student week is approaching as well as a Going Home Orientation – however, it’s only been two months and I have another two and a half left! Why are they pushing? I have no idea.
This post will be a jumble of thoughts concerning this midway point. I am a little behind on posts still but hope to catch up before my mini-adventure this weekend.
I am really connecting with some people here and making friends; however, it’s a very small number. I became accustomed to having a very large network of acquaintances and friends back at home, so this feels a bit odd. Having a few close friends is the most important thing I think but if you have more friends you have more of a chance to not eat lunch alone, to talk with someone, to go on adventures with someone etc. Also, despite befriending some Japanese students, I have not become really close to any yet. My Nihongo Partners turn down any invitations and can only meet up with me once a week for lunch. One of the said new friends and I were discussing this and we were talking about how Japan is a very isolated, homogeneous society that seems to subconsciously bifurcate Japanese and non-Japanese. Japanese and foreign. This bifurcation leads to deliberate distance. When I try to connect with Japanese students, I feel like we are each on one side of a river and I am building a bridge to reach them, but they simply reach out their hand. To have a deep relationship, both sides need to build. Maybe if I were going to be here longer students might be more open to becoming my friend?
With that said, I have done so much in my two months in Japan! I’m falling more and more in love with travel. Learning what new cities have to offer, seeing new landscapes, feeling the atmosphere, eating the food. I’m also getting more into photography, noticing new techniques and habits. Also, people compliment my pictures and I get super excited.
Although it is not as solidified as I want it to be, I have a pretty good workout schedule that I have been gradually improving with the help of the gym’s resources and the various pools of information from those around me. I’m noticing physical changes: stronger, firmer, more toned. And I’m loving it. Gotta keep going! Also, I’m getting small calluses, tough spots, from weight-lifting and this is important because the last time I got a callus my older sister was like “Woah from all your working out?!” and I was like “no, from saber-spinning” and she was all “oh. pff. nerd” so now I have calluses from both Ha! (also my fingertips toughening from guitar and bass).
Sometimes, I will be talking with someone, translating for a friend, reading my homework (that is all in Japanese), or just listening to conversations around me and am hit with a sense of fluency. Then, the conversation continues, a new kanji appears, someone with a faster or more colloquial accent joins, and I am lost again. A boat that had been sailing beautifully suddenly being dragged down by waves, stumbling among the crashing water.
If I was okay with not traveling as much, I could honestly probably afford a full year here, but I don’t think I want to. I want to be here, to study here, to live here, to keep working on my language ability, and so on. But I also want to wrap up this major, go back to my university, and explore my second major. I want to figure out what I want to do after college. I am not sure if translation as a primary career is what I truly want. I would love to do something that makes a difference in some way, though I’m not sure exactly how other than environmentally. I am currently enjoying the successful realization of a dream, a goal, that I have been planning for and wishing for for years. I am savoring it and having so much fun, but once it is over, I’m not sure. I was climbing a mountain, my gaze fixed on that paradise at the top and I am enjoying it. But soon, I will reach the edge and am not sure what I will find just yet. It is exciting but scary. So, basically, I chose Asian Studies as a major because I knew two things: 1. I wanted to continue learning Japanese. 2. I wanted to study abroad in Japan. Seeing that my university did not offer Japanese as a major, I chose Asian Studies. This all culminates into: my dream is coming true and I’m nervous about what will happen. As they said in Tangled, I guess I will have to find a new dream. I want to keep dreaming – I will always think big, plan big, and imagine. “I don’t wanna know who I would be, when I wake up from a dreamer’s sleep.” (Twenty One Pilots).
I found out via the travel counter at school that I can go to Yakushima and take tours for practically half the price of what I was researching on my own. Thank you college resources and student discounts! I will definitely be doing that at some point, especially since this will be my only time being a student in Japan…unless of course, I come back here for graduate school (just a pondering I had).
Apparently, the rainy season is starting. I love the sound, but I am nervous because it will affect sight-seeing plans. In the case of Tokyo, it wasn’t that much of a hassle. However, if I were to go hiking or to a beach, the rain would be a bit more of a hindrance.
Without any real rhyme or reason, I have written this self-reflective post to commemorate the two-month marker here in glorious Japan. Now, I must sleep off the two stressful midterms I had this morning. (Though there was enough of a study-break in the middle for me to check out the garden and see lotus flowers and a baby turtle – adorable!).
Alexandra Newsom studied abroad in Osaka/Kobe, Japan. To read more of Alexandra’s journey in Japan, follow her blog, A Wanderer’s Yarns.
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