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