I’m starting to get nervous. I’m nervous because it’s 5:30 p.m. on Sunday and I haven’t accomplished anything that I promised myself I would at the start of the weekend. There are hours of homework to be done, finals to be studied for, networking emails to be sent, and LSAT prep courses to be researched…but I can’t seem to motivate myself to move. I’m laying on my bed and staring at the ceiling. My bedside window is cracked just enough so that I can feel the spring breeze on my toes, poking out from under the covers. The sun is beginning to set and I can’t think of a more pleasing place to be. I was up late last night and without realizing it, I’ve slept the day away.
On Friday afternoon, after classes ended, I was determined to come back to my apartment and get some serious work done. Instead, I ended up eating a large helping of curry at CoCo Ichibanya, taking a seriously poorly timed nap, and consequently staying up all night binging on Netflix’s newest release: Quicksand. On Saturday, instead of studying for my finals, I went to Enoshima beach, played chess, and sunbathed. On Saturday night, instead of catching up on emails and doing the load of laundry that has been waiting in my hamper for a week, I was convinced by my friends to take the train to Yokohoma and stay out until the sunrise.
“We’re only here once”. “You won’t be able to have this experience again, Carter”. “This is what study abroad is all about”. “You can sleep when you’re dead”. “I know you’ll regret not coming”. These are the phrases I hear almost everyday from my friends when I’m deciding how to spend my remaining time in Tokyo. As cliche as these phrases may sound, they hold some truth to them. It is true that I don’t know when I’ll have an opportunity like this again in my life, so I’ve been practicing letting go and saying yes more. Generally, I’m a very driven individual and I’m quite accustomed to turning down invitations to socialize to prioritize work or academic commitments. At the beginning of my semester in Tokyo, I did just that and spent a lot of time working on cover letters, stipend applications, and fellowships for the future.
However, something happened halfway though this semester: I reached the inevitable study abroad school slump. This is highly uncharacteristic of me. Maybe it was cherry blossom season or the warmth of spring? Maybe it was the realization that I may never have this level of freedom in a foreign city again? Maybe it’s burnout? I can’t be sure. I’ve accepted that as long as I keep my grades at a level I’m personally comfortable with and maintain financial security, its okay to relax and just live in the present for once. I’m learning to embrace a more balanced work and life combination. For anyone who’s like me, give yourself permission to let go of typical expectations when you’re abroad. You’ll thank yourself later once you begin the monumental task of figuring out what you’re going to do once you graduate.