As I walk through the jammed streets of Tokyo, things that initially seemed bizarre to me when I first arrived are now calming reminders of the city that I’ve grown to love. There’s no denying it- I absolutely adore Tokyo. Since I’ve been here, I’ve had nothing less than the best time of my life. From going on weekly CoCo Curry runs with my apartment mates and exploring the winding alleys of Shinjuku’s red light district to getting lost in Don Quijote’s endless neon aisles and frequenting my neighborhood kombini, nearly every day has been filled with joy and surprises. In addition to literally never getting bored, my mental and physical health have been stellar since my arrival in Japan. In particular, the freshness of Japanese hanami season and calming routine and stability of Tokyo’s atmosphere have contributed to my elevated well-being. To put it shortly, I’ve never been happier. I know it may sound cliche or idealistic coming from the “college student abroad”, but it’s true. I believe that coming to Tokyo was the best decision I’ve ever made. Now that the end of my semester is looming in the near future, I can’t help but feel an overarching sadness.
Today, when I checked my email, my heart sank. I received an email from my study abroad supervisor reminding me that I have exit orientation this weekend. In less than a month, I will be returning home to the states to finish my last year of college. When asked about their homecoming, many of my peers begin to feel homesick. They’re excited to see their families and anxious to return to the comfort of their home country. I, however, have never felt homesick during my time in Tokyo. I’m dreading the day when I have to board my flight back home. I keep wondering if it’s normal to feel so attached to a place I’ve only lived in for a few months.
When I think of D.C., the city that I was raised in, I think of extremely fond memories and feel lots of pride. However, when I think of Tokyo, all I can feel is elation. My heartbeat increases. I feel an unstoppable grin forming on my face. My mind dances to Roppongi, dancing the night away and to Ikebukuro, eating boundless sushi and drinking ginger highballs at my favorite izakaya. For me, Tokyo is a space of possibility and wonder. I simply can’t get enough. Now that I have less than a month left and my impending departure causes me to feel a lump in my throat when I think about it, I’m becoming more sure that Tokyo is a place I will return to live in one day.
When I started college, I hoped to find a home away from D.C. that I would grow to love overtime. As freshman year, sophomore year, and the first half of junior year went by and I felt no love for new “home,” I was convinced that it wasn’t possible to find a place where I felt completely happy and at ease. Tokyo proved me wrong. The past three months have taught me that it is possible to find a home away from home, even if it takes going to the other side of the world.