Well, this is it. The time has come. My last couple days in Japan have arrived. It seems to surreal right now. On August 26th, I arrived on Japanese soil and now it’s time to leave.
Throughout my time in Japan, I have had both good and bad experiences, but they have all helped me grow. For instance, back in the US, I have a tendency to refrain from approaching people and speaking to them, especially in social situations (yes, I am that socially awkward person). However, as time progressed, I found myself coming out of my shell more and speaking to others. I surprised myself when I would go out with some friends and I would be the one speaking to Japanese people and being able to understand them without asking おそく話して下さい (Osoku hanashite kudasai = please speak slower). I definitely have noticed that my listening and speaking abilities have strengthened and I have become more confident (I cannot wait to speak to my Japanese professor when I return. Maybe I will surprise even her).
Nevertheless, I can’t put into enough words what I have taken away from this experience. I have not only learned more about the Japanese people and their culture, but also myself. I’ve met old friends on the other side of the world, which I never thought would be possible. I’ve made new friends, whom I will cherish forever, but will miss dearly. I even had the opportunity to learn how to play the Taiko drums from Yukihiko Sensei, an incredible man who has been doing Taiko for 40 years! He was even so kind as to inform my friends and I before the lesson that Taiko wasn’t an art, but a sport! Sure enough, for the next couple of days, my arms and legs felt like I had been playing a sport (But the soreness and the memories that accompanied it were welcomed).
Studying abroad also came with responsibilities, the primary of which revolved around academics. As I mentioned in a previous post, I had some challenges managing my time and prioritizing, but I took it upon myself to make the effort to triumph over such challenges. For instance, there was a concert I really anticipated going to during the week of finals, however, the night before, I realized I wasn’t prepared for my one of my classes so I put my final first, stayed home, and studied. When the week was over, I found out I received an A on that final. If there’s one thing I found to be the most important in my time in Japan, it has been finding that balance and knowing what to put first. It means growing as a student and an adult. As an ongoing process, I take it one step at a time to adapt and believe that being in another country has given me constant reminders of the benefits that can be reaped from hard work, determination, and perseverance.
It has been 15 weeks since I landed in Japan, but I have definitely gained more than 15 weeks of memories. So while the sun is setting on my time in the land of the rising sun, I have a strong feeling it will rise again soon. So for now, I take back the title of this final post. I won’t say goodbye, but またね日本！(See you again, Japan!)