For the most part, everything about being in Japan is completely new to me. For example, living alone and walking to school is new for me. In college, I share a dorm room with my sister, so we usually eat meals together. Also, since the sophomore dorms at Umass
Dartmouth do not have kitchens, we didn’t really have to go shopping for much except quick microwavable meals and snacks. Granted, I accompany my mom when she goes shopping and help her choose what to get, but this too is different from shopping alone with my own money to make meals for myself.
A discovery I made that I have found that I love is having a lunch break built-in to class schedules. Back home, you just eat whenever your schedule allows or you have to eat during class, which isn’t my favorite thing to do since usually it results in me not eating much because I am too focused on my work. This lunch break gives us a great break to refuel and socialize between classes. Another of my favorite new experiences is having classes with other international students. It is a wonderful way to learn more about other cultures, and get to know people from a wide variety of backgrounds. This makes this study abroad experience even more culturally enlightening.
I have discovered that being so far away from home has made Christmas shopping even more exciting, as I am always thinking of my family and when I find something that is perfect for them, I pick it up. I find that even more than usual, I am excited to see their reactions and delight at what I give them to show how much I love them. I am looking forward to Christmas time this year not only because it is the most important time to me, but additionally because it will be when I am reunited with my family and friends.
Although the public transportation systems are complicated and may take some time to fully figure out, they make it possible to explore and travel much more easily for those without cars than back home. It does of course help that there is a train station within walking distance from the apartments. With public transportation, making plans for the weekend can consist of a much wider variety of locations.
Adjusting to my new social setting will probably take the longest amount of time for me. Since all of my friends and family are not with me, I have to adjust to not being able to spend as much time with them. Furthermore, I need to do my best to make new friends here, despite my shy nature.
Being a newcomer in a different country is a great way to learn new things about yourself and the world around you. It also presents new circumstances which help you grow. My time in Japan has allowed me to grow in my faith, trusting that He knows the path before me, so I have nothing to fear.