Thinking about studying abroad in Japan comes in waves. My feelings about it oscillate as it pops into my mind periodically. During the semester, I tried to tune it out because I needed to focus on my busy schedule. People would ask if I was excited and I would say yes, but I have to get through the semester first. Now I can think about it all I want, daydream about it even. Still I find myself still putting it on the back burner. Am I doing this because I’m nervous about what next semester will bring? Or is it just muscle memory from trying to ignore it for so long? Maybe I should let these impulsive thoughts about Tokyo take root in my mind, so I can learn all that they have to offer.
Aside from the thoughts swirling around in my own head, I’ve been reflecting on this opportunity from the perspective of others in my life. I’ve built a strong support network at Temple. Recently, my mind has wandered during the time I spend with friends. I think about the uncertainties surrounding the people I’ll meet in Tokyo. These conversations in my head usually end with me telling myself that, right now, it’s more important to stay in the present. Besides, I made friends here, I can do it again.
When I told my mom that I was going to live in Tokyo for four months, she was so happy for me. She had never been afforded an opportunity like this and saw it as an indicator of her hard work paying off. Part of me is proud that I will be a pioneer in my family, first to go to college and now first to experience anything like studying abroad. The other part of me is working on resolving conflicts that inevitably arise when the people that surround you don’t have the same experiences. I know that my parents and friends will support me in everything I do, but I wish there was a way for them to better understand what this experience will be like for me.
I’m currently sitting in the lab that I’ve worked in for about a year, surrounded by familiar things. I can answer the new undergraduates about the location of a piece of glassware without turning away from the computer. At the moment, the changes Tokyo will bring seem necessary. It will get me out of my routine and into a new environment. But there’s still a voice inside me, however small, asking why I feel the need to change it up and why I can’t just stay put in my bubble of comfort. The answer is because that’s not where you learn and grow. It’s neither exciting nor transformative. This is what I’ll keep reminding myself of whenever I become complacent.