What Study Abroad Has Taught Me

. Wednesday, December 13, 2017 .



When I arrived in Japan back in September, I knew within the first week that something was missing. Sitting in my new apartment, bags still unpacked, I felt incomplete and alone. Only two months later and I would be sitting outside my apartment, on the phone with my parents in tears. I begged them to get me the next flight home, saying I was done here.

A normal day consisted of class, eating, homework and then sleeping, all of these activities done alone in my tiny apartment, usually watching TV or just laying in bed with the lights off. For lack of a better word, I was depressed, even though I came here to live my dream. I was puzzled and angry:

 How did I get here?


I started doing therapy, and the therapist recommended I spend as little time as possible home, and more time outside. I heeded her instructions, and began to reach out to people in my classes. I spoke to everyone I could, I got phone numbers and messaging account ID's, I went to a few club meetings and walked around my neighborhood dozens of times. 

Slowly, as I began to experience life with other people, it got easier. I felt happier, lighter and found my voice again. Friendships that started out awkward became one's full of laughter and inside jokes. 

I thought to myself 'I can do this. I can finish this semester'. I originally planned to stay a year, but only 2 months in and my bags were packed to go home. I came home two days after that tearful call to my parents, took a deep breath and slowly unpacked my bags. I vowed that I would make it through a semester, just one.

I expected Japan to teach me a lot of things, mostly Japanese. To my surprise, Japan has taught me a lot about myself and what independence looks like for me. It's taught me that sharing happy moments with other people increases my own joy tenfold. It's taught me that who I'm surrounded by directly affects my happiness and strength.


I'm staying until the end of this semester because I've found my balance here in Japan, but I've also found amazing people. I've made friends from all around the world, and I've met people that have changed my life forever. 

The amount of kindness I've experienced here, from local people to fellow students, has been humbling. Though even now my study abroad experience is a bit up and down, my circle has expanded to reach people in different countries, whom I never would have met otherwise. UK, Sweden, China, France, New Zealand. The list goes on forever. I'm incredibly grateful I had this chance to meet so many people, and it's expanded my view of the world. 

I used to say 'I never want to travel anywhere but Japan' but now my list is getting longer by the day! Though I have two months left, I often think to myself 'What if I could do it all over? What would I change?'. I can easily ponder how things would be different if I lived somewhere else, took less classes, etc. However, I'm content because where I am right now is exactly where I want to be. 

Some beautiful art my friend from France created









When I arrived in Japan back in September, I knew within the first week that something was missing. Sitting in my new apartment, bags still unpacked, I felt incomplete and alone. Only two months later and I would be sitting outside my apartment, on the phone with my parents in tears. I begged them to get me the next flight home, saying I was done here.

A normal day consisted of class, eating, homework and then sleeping, all of these activities done alone in my tiny apartment, usually watching TV or just laying in bed with the lights off. For lack of a better word, I was depressed, even though I came here to live my dream. I was puzzled and angry:

 How did I get here?


I started doing therapy, and the therapist recommended I spend as little time as possible home, and more time outside. I heeded her instructions, and began to reach out to people in my classes. I spoke to everyone I could, I got phone numbers and messaging account ID's, I went to a few club meetings and walked around my neighborhood dozens of times. 

Slowly, as I began to experience life with other people, it got easier. I felt happier, lighter and found my voice again. Friendships that started out awkward became one's full of laughter and inside jokes. 

I thought to myself 'I can do this. I can finish this semester'. I originally planned to stay a year, but only 2 months in and my bags were packed to go home. I came home two days after that tearful call to my parents, took a deep breath and slowly unpacked my bags. I vowed that I would make it through a semester, just one.

I expected Japan to teach me a lot of things, mostly Japanese. To my surprise, Japan has taught me a lot about myself and what independence looks like for me. It's taught me that sharing happy moments with other people increases my own joy tenfold. It's taught me that who I'm surrounded by directly affects my happiness and strength.


I'm staying until the end of this semester because I've found my balance here in Japan, but I've also found amazing people. I've made friends from all around the world, and I've met people that have changed my life forever. 

The amount of kindness I've experienced here, from local people to fellow students, has been humbling. Though even now my study abroad experience is a bit up and down, my circle has expanded to reach people in different countries, whom I never would have met otherwise. UK, Sweden, China, France, New Zealand. The list goes on forever. I'm incredibly grateful I had this chance to meet so many people, and it's expanded my view of the world. 

I used to say 'I never want to travel anywhere but Japan' but now my list is getting longer by the day! Though I have two months left, I often think to myself 'What if I could do it all over? What would I change?'. I can easily ponder how things would be different if I lived somewhere else, took less classes, etc. However, I'm content because where I am right now is exactly where I want to be. 

Some beautiful art my friend from France created






15 comments

  1. Nice post! Living abroad does have it's challenges but that's awesome you are making connections with others! You can help each other enjoy the experiences and get through the challenges!

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    Replies
    1. That's exactly how I feel! Thanks for commenting :)

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  2. Meeting other people and building friendships is vital when you live abroad. I can remember how difficult beginnnings were for me when I first arrived in the UK. And here I am 12 years on with my own little family now. Enjoy every bit of your new experience.

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    Replies
    1. Wow, 12 years! That's incredible. Making friends was the best choice I made here, for sure. Thank you so much!

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  3. Being away from home can be so tough, thank you for talking about it! You’re so brave for studying away from home! I love you’re photos

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  4. I would love to go to Japan! Moving to another country can be so difficult! You should be proud of yourself for doing it xo
    www.lovecally.com

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  5. You can be proud of yourself for leaving and also for staying. It's so much harder than many can imagine. I was really home sick for a long time but it got easier and easier. Really lovely post! :)

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  6. Studying Abroad or traveling along in general can be lonely at first, but you are right: it teaches you so much more about yourself and challenges you to act outside of your comfort zone. Good for you for being courageous and sticking to it!

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  7. I think this is a great experience to have had! You’re very strong for fighting through that loneliness and finding some good things within yourself! Great post!

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  8. Awesome post! I love the realness of it. Sometimes travel/study abroad/other experiences don't meet all of our great expectations at first, but turn into a different experience altogether which we can learn and grow from.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's exactly how I feel! Thank you for commenting xoxo!

      Delete
  9. It’s always daunting when you move somewhere new, especially a completely new country! I’m glad you got used to Japan and didn’t move home!

    Kelly
    http://www.thiswayandthatway.com

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  10. I'm so happy that you adjusted- sounds like a great experience!

    ReplyDelete

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