“I soon realized that no journey carries one far unless, as it extends into the world around us, it goes an equal distance into the world within.”
– Lillian Smith
Today is December 30, 2012. As we near the end of the year and home becomes more and more familiar, it's getting harder and harder to put into words what I've experienced over the last few months.
At first, when I returned home, every conversation seemed to go like this:
"How was Japan?"
"It was great! Pretty weird."
"Wow, that's great!"
Hmmmm. That seems to come up a bit short in describing my experience. Nevertheless, I got over the fact that not everyone wants to know about Japanese culture, Japanese people, or the Japanese language. Of course I could talk for hours about it. But to my fellow New Jersey residents, it's all just so foreign and they'd rather me have the special knowledge of what it really means all to myself. I'm not complaining, it's okay to be selfish sometimes.
Jet lag was horrible. For about a week I would get so tired I couldn't keep my eyes open around 6-8 pm, then I'd fall asleep and wake up at 4 am. I'm pretty much on a regular sleep schedule now, except for the fact that I've yet to wake up past 9 am this entire break. That's really not a bad thing, I just want to feel like a lazy college student again.
Overall, my time in Japan leaves me speechless. I've grown significantly as a person and learned so much about who I am, what I want to do, and where I want to do it. From the beginning I've been saying that while my friends in Europe were on vacation, I was studying abroad (sorry, friends). To be dropped in Japan with so much uncertainty and actually not only survive, but thrive there, is an accomplishment I'm proud to say is all mine. The people I've met who made Japan what it was to me have a special place in my heart. The experiences I've documented and (mostly) the undocumented will forever remain in the back of my mind as a reminder of my amazing semester in Chiba.
The most significant question that Japan has stirred up inside of me is that of my future. Sooner than I know, my junior year will be ending. That means one year to decide what the hell to do with "the rest" of my life. For me, I think I'll take it year by year. I can't tell you where I'll live, what I'll be doing, or who I'll be doing it with. All I know is this feeling inside me, this curiosity of the unknown, will only be satisfied in one way. Needless to say, I'll see you next time in South America (or maybe a European tour, India, Malaysia, Africa, Iceland, that road trip I've always dreamed about...you get the point).
So thank you for spending my semester abroad with me. Without the endless compliments from family and friends, I probably would have only posted once. You've been the best audience simply because I can't hear you complain about my bad grammar or grumble at the outrageous exaggerations my mom tells me I'm so famous for. Let's keep it that way. Hopefully this is the first of many blogs, travel or leisure, and I hope that in the future, you are just as welcoming and wonderful as you were this time around.
Now to make Villanova proud, I'll leave you with a fantastic quote from St. Augustine:
“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.”