This summer I studied abroad in Japan through a program called JCMU. This was my first trip out side of the U.S. and also my first time riding on a plane. I can honestly say, it was one of the best experiences I've ever had. It wasn't with out it's challenges though. It took a lot to find the confidence to say I'm going to this and then actually follow suit. I had lived with the thought of going for most of my life, but I could never get past the distance. Being from a close knit family, it was hard to imagine journeying so far away from home. They thought so as well. Then there was the fear of heights, I couldn't even stomach a roller coaster. After getting into college, I spent two years thinking about and listening to everything people had to say concerning travel, riding planes, money and culture differences etc. The only thing was that most of the people telling me had never attempted what I was about to do. So I made a decision, I would find out for myself.
After I made up my mind all of the fears and doubts I had turned into determination, I had to know for myself. With this new vote of confidence, I began to search for a means to travel to Japan. After a while of searching through study abroad programs at my University, I came a crossed JCMU. It was a summer long program of studying language in Japan. It was perfect for my finances and my time schedule. All that was left for me to do was to apply and head out. I hit a few snags finding a good price on plane tickets and a few other obstacles which almost prevented me from going, but my strong desire to experience Japan for myself help me to persevere.
With that, I took to the sky and began my journey to Japan. It turns out flying wasn't as bad as everyone had told me, I loved it!
Before I could get to Japan I had to change planes in South Korea. It was easier to get around the air port than I thought it would be. Everybody I ran into spoke a little bit of English, which was helpful.
It was a little strange, though I had traveled through South Korea and arrived in Japan I didn't experience the anxiety known as culture shock. It wasn't until my return to America, that I felt the effects of the culture differences. After arriving in Japan I wasn't met with a welcome wagon, I was on my own. I spoke only five sentences in Japanese, along with a few phrases I picked up from my favorite anime. I was in trouble, not really. If you understand your basic direction questions and answers you can find your way around pretty well, people in Japan are very helpful. I got directions to the city where my program was located and caught a bullet train heading that way.
By the time I got my program I was exhausted. I had been up the whole 14 hours of the flight and the small time I spent in South Korea. I was experiencing jet lag. It took some time for me to adjusted to the change in time zones. The culture part wasn't to hard you just have to do everything opposite of American culture; take your shoes of before you enter the house, separate your garbage and be polite.
The town I stayed in was a cozy little place called Hikone.
The people I met at JCMU were all amazing. Everybody had their own reasons for coming to Japan. Some were there for business, others for research, but most of us were there for language. The summer program was very intense. We studied day in and day out with out fail. It was overwhelming to say the least, from my experience. I was pushed to my limits and beyond academically. I had many sleepless nights of cramming for tests, memorizing different grammar patters and vocabulary everyday. I was met with a challenge every step of the way. I didn't overcome all of them, but I learned every time. Whether it was a short coming or a success.
These are my classmates and our language professors.
Through all of the hustle and bustle of school and the busy life in Japan, I still manged to have fun. I met a lot of new friends and we traveled to a lot of fun places.
Friends and other places
Japan was everything I thought it would be and more. There were times when I had to pinch myself to see if it was real. The things that I learned and the people I met have inspired me to see more of the world. I wont ever forget what I experienced in Japan. No words can really describe what it's like to get to live out one of your dreams. But I'll give it a try anyway, it was a blessing.