During my last semester of college, I decided to study abroad in Tokyo, Japan. The day I left America was one of the most nerve-racking days of my life. I was partly terrified, but mostly I was thrilled to be going to a foreign country to live there for four months. I was traveling halfway around the world, all on my own to a place where I didn’t know anyone. I couldn’t even speak the language, but I wasn’t going to let that stop me. I knew that living there was going to change me forever. I changed just going away to college a couple hours from my home; I could only imagine how living in Japan would change me. I was going to come back to the states with new perspectives and ideas, and my own attitude and direction in life would be altered. I don’t think I was prepared for just how right I was.
In my first few months in Tokyo, I fell in love with the city and couldn’t imagine ever leaving. I had fallen in love with Japan and quickly realized it was a place I wanted to live. Eventually that idea faded because I realized that even if I came back to live in Japan later on (maybe teaching English), the experience would not be the same.
The one thing that made my trip so memorable and life changing was the friends I made. I met some of the most amazing people from all over the country and the world. We all lived in one dorm and went to school together. By the end of the trip, we were practically a family. Most of us dreaded leaving; leaving Japan and leaving all of our new found friends. The people were what my trip so amazing. Experiencing Japan in all its glory with the people I met there made my trip one of the best times of my life. That experience will never be repeated, one reason I cannot imagine going back there to live.
Coming back to the states wasn’t easy; readjusting to an American life was more difficult than adapting to a Japanese one. I wasn’t quite prepared for the culture shock of coming back home. After being back, I realized that my goals and views had changed. I was just graduating college and was itching to get out again. I had caught the travel bug and there was no going back. I also realized that I loved living in a city, and sought to move away within the next year for graduate school. By living in a foreign country for a few months, all of my goals changed for the coming year. This was by far one of the biggest changes I brought back with me from Japan.
I don’t know if I can fully describe my life there as it’s beyond words. It’s more of a feeling, one that a person has to experience for their self. Saying it was great or amazing really doesn’t cut it. I have so many emotions tied in with my life there, from happiness to sadness. But if anything, all I really have are fond memories of the time I spent abroad. For any young people reading this, consider studying abroad during college or even high school. It will change you and at the same time, it will be one of the best times of your life.