2019 Spring Carter Wynne Temple Japan Temple Semester

It Took Me 6,553 Miles to Finally Feel Truly Comfortable in College

It’s 10 p.m. on Saturday night and my friends and I are getting ready to go out. My friend Dana’s apartment smells like perfume, someone using a flat iron to smooth out their clothes, and my coconut edge cream. We’re blasting some classic J. Cole and relaxing before hitting Roppongi. We aren’t exactly sure where we will be heading to, but no one seems remotely bothered by our lack of plans. Everyone knows that there is always something to do on a Saturday night in Tokyo. Five minutes before we’re about to leave our apartment complex, my friend Herbie knocks on Dana’s door. Wondering where the sounds of giggles and singing were coming from, he’d wandered down the hall. Herbie takes one look at us, as we’re now belting out Nicki Minaj’s Barbie Dreams, and says “give me five minutes, I’m coming”. Ten minutes later, Herbie emerges from his own apartment wearing a spectacular outfit with perfectly drawn eyeliner. Now, we’re ready to go. 

As we walk to the train station, we can’t seem to stop laughing. Everyone is in a great mood and the night seems as promising as ever. We don’t miss a beat. We briefly pause in the subway stairwell to have a impromptu photoshoot. As we’re snapping photos of one another, Herbie excitedly announces “Guys, it’s a Black girls’ night out!”. We erupt in laughter, smiling at this realization. As I look around at the friends that I’ve made in the past two and half months, I realize something profound. I haven’t had an experience like this since high school…a Black girls’ night out – a night out in which I feel completely comfortable in my own skin. 

At Colby, there is a very small percentage of students of color on campus. This means that in virtually every space I traverse on campus, I’m either the only or one of very few people of color. There are obviously some spaces on campus where people of color can feel accepted and comfortable, but those spaces are rare and sometimes hard to find. I love my friends at Colby, don’t get me wrong. I love hanging out with them and spending quality time together. However, there is something incredibly refreshing, validating, and comforting about being surrounded by people who come from a similar backgrounds as me and look like me. I finally feel like I don’t have to code-switch and I can be authentically myself in a group of like-minded individuals. Unfortunately, I’ve rarely been able to feel this sentiment during my time at Colby.

I think it’s funny and a bit ironic that it took me 6,553 miles to find this experience during my college career. During my “Black girls’ night out”, I felt liberated. I felt like I truly fit in for once – something I must admit I’ve never felt at Colby. When I leave Japan, I will certainly miss Tokyo and the myriad of benefits that come along with living in this amazing city, but I will also genuinely miss the group of friends that I’ve made here.

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