Epilogue – Being a Foreigner in Japan

Consider this an epilogue of sorts. Four months in Japan is a long time, relatively at least. For someone who has never left the country, never traveled alone, and especially never lived alone, it feels like forever. However even as the trip came to an end, I knew that my experience only scratched the surface of what others have been through.

Some of my friends here have been studying since last September, meaning their return marked the conclusion to a year-long trip. Having spent about seventeen weeks dumping all my thoughts and experiences into this blog, I figured it would be nice to look a bit outward and do some research.

In this essay I will endeavor to report the experience of being a foreigner in Japan, contrasting my experience with the accounts of those I’ve grown close to along with some statistical information and stories I’ve found online.

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Week 17 – The End of the Line

By the time this is posted, it will be Sunday night here in Nagoya. A few friends will have already left to return home or go on further travels throughout Japan. I’m not sure how emotional I will be by that point. Like with arriving here, I wasn’t sure when the weight of departing would hit me like a ton of bricks.

I’ve elected not to give a shit. After all, the unknown has been tamed. I spent four months in a foreign country alone and I killed it. In less than a week, I’ll be home, eating American food and catching up with friends I miss like crazy. There is nothing to be afraid of now, except when I’ll get to see the friends I met here again.

We are a pretty spread out bunch as far as origins. Some of my best friends are in Canada, and one of them is even further north in Alaska. Reuniting will be a future endeavor that we are all anxiously awaiting. However, if I’m honest, I’m not that worried about that either.

Circumstance is a big factor in how people connect. The friends I have back home became my friends over years of seeing each other in school, learning about one another and slowly realizing we tolerated each other enough to actually enjoy one another’s company. The way I feel talking with my friends here isn’t a whole lot different.

Granted, we all share that desire for friends given that we are out of our shells and we all live in the same building. Plus, I would argue seeing all your friends naked at a hot spring and just goofing around will accelerate the bond of any friendship tenfold, as weird as it may sound.

So what are my thoughts on going home? I’m excited to see my friends back home, I’m disappointed I’ll be leaving the ones here, and I’m only nervous about the 12 hour flight. I think I’ve stated this before, but if the biggest worry for the past month has been airport check-in, I’d say I’ve been doing pretty well.

I still can’t quite believe that I of all people went to my parents one day and said “hey, I think I wanna study abroad.” If there is a lesson for the end of this journey is that when you get that voice in the back of your head saying “this would be a great opportunity for you,” maybe you should listen. Because once you take a leap and try some crazy and awesome stuff, you can rest easy knowing you got there because of you.

This is the end of the line, but since all of this was technically a blog for a class, expect an epilogue next weekend. A more research-based conclusion that sums up what I learned. However, for now, consider this the true ending to this cool little story.

Thanks for reading.

Week 16 – Making the Most of It

My friend Chris came to me this time around for one last get-together before I returned to America. It was a long and fun day bringing one of the last two weeks to a satisfying close and actually ended up being a lot more than initially planned (which is always a pleasant surprise). Ever since I first met up with Chris in Nakatsugawa, we talked about him visiting Nagoya, but now here we were, with me playing the tour guide.

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Week 15 – The Last Big Assignment

You ever get to the end of a school term, look at all the things you need to get done and pinpoint the exact moment you can just relax. Typically the work will persist up until the very last moment but then you have those terms where things are going pretty smooth. It’s the moment you’ve got one last big project that’s kinda stressing you out, followed by the remainder of the term that’s a breeze. That’s what I’m dealing with now.

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Week 14 – Okay, NOW I Went to Tokyo

I DID IT!!! I took the obligatory trip to Tokyo and it was pretty cool. I got to reunite with my friend Chris, with whom I last hung out with during Golden Week. To be honest this may have been the perfect day to go to Tokyo, at least for me.

It was a rainy day in Tokyo and while that may have deterred others it did little to deter me. I happen to love rain and while interacting with it tends to lead to some wet clothes and possibly a cold, it has only gotten more pleasant the older I get. However, while I do intend to share plenty of pictures of this trip, there is something more important I want to share about what this trip showed me.

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Week 13 – The Best Day Yet

Part of me feared that by the end of my trip, I would not have truly engaged with the people here. Even if I took the steps to talk with people from Japan more, how would I know when I really and truly had made a strong connection? Would it have been enough?

But, all tough things in life just need a big enough push to get through, and I’m happy to say that this week was the most engaged I have felt with this… incredible place. It all started with my Culture teacher, Masuda sensei.

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Week 12 – A Cross-Cultural Update

I am over half-way done with my trip to Japan and it is both exactly what I expected and not what I expected at all… so figure that one out.

I know that this entire blog has been dedicated to me venting all of my thoughts on this once-in-a-lifetime experience here in Japan. This isn’t gonna be that different and, in fact, is more of a digestive of how I have specifically adapted to this new culture. So let’s track this from the beginning.

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