2017 Fall Anitta Machanickal Temple Japan

Feeling Like You’re Standing Still (the Irony of Constant Movement)

Now that my time in Japan is nearly half way over, I want to touch up on the various feelings that I’ve been experiencing and maybe some of what you may experience if you decide to study abroad.

A primary primary feeling that sneaks up on me, that still takes me by surprise is homesickness. Sure, scoff at that tidbit of information. Everyone and their mothers have been warned about the homesickness that you will experience when traveling abroad. I thought it would not affect me though. Not because I thought I was above it all but because, while I’m from the suburbs of Chicago, I go to school in North Carolina. I don’t come home during the semester. The first semester I was a little shaky but ever since, my feelings of homesickness have practically been nonexistent. I love my family but I’ll be honest, they drive me nuts sometimes. Being on campus with my friends, my college has become my second home. I guess that’s the problem with studying abroad. No matter how long you’re here, you know that it’s temporary. By the end of the semester or year, you will be going back to your country. All the friends you make while studying abroad, you won’t see for awhile. Some you may not even ever see again. The routines you’ve perfected for everyday life will all become obsolete the moment your plane touches down back home. You will probably never come back to lifestyle or people you became accustomed to while studying abroad. This fact makes it hard not to miss home. After all, relative permanence come with a sense of comfort and security, which we all crave. Too many times in a day, I wish for my mom’s catfish curry and rice, rather the same seaweed and Japanese rice that I get at the conbini. While I hang out and laugh with my friends, I can’t help but think longingly about how much I wish my friends from back home were here too. As I sit and try to gesture a conversation with my Japanese friends, I can’t help but wonder what’s the point if we’ll probably never see each other again.

I know, it’s all rather pessimistic. However, the homesickness does lead into the other major feeling that I’m experiencing right now: desperation. That’s the best word I could come up for the feeling really. All my thoughts on the temporality of being in Japan has made me realized, I’m only in Japan for another month or so! I currently am freaking out at this information because I feel like I have not done enough. This thought does bring up the question: what is enough? I don’t believe four months is enough time to explore all of Japan. I could go to all the tourist spots of Japan but that’s the point of touring a country. Studying abroad should be more than just seeing the sights. The point that I am trying to come to is that I need to embrace the fact that I’m not wasting my time in Japan. I have experienced more than a lot of the people I know have. I’m not saying I’m going to stop venturing out but I do have to remind myself to slow down and appreciate each place I decide to visit. Maybe I come back to Japan, maybe not. Either way, I’ll never be coming back as a inexperienced, confused student. I should enjoy this portion of my life for all it’s worth because I will never come back to this same feeling again.

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The traditional ryokan in Tochigi that I went to this weekend

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