Hello all! Yes, I’m still alive and kicking. No, I’m no longer in Japan. Yes, I’m still planning to bring you all things travel and book related. As I’m sure everyone is aware of with recent events, the world has been in a grim place because of COVID-19. It affected a lot of students. This includes myself, and what had been my study abroad. I’ll write a whole post revolved around this at a later date. For now, I still have tons of adventures to tell you all about that I never got the chance to. I hope you enjoy some wacky, adventurous, emotional tales of my semester in Japan.
こんにちは from the Tokyo metro. When I first imagined writing this post, I pictured myself in my favorite coffee shop, sipping on a latte; there would be quiet music floating in the background, and the soft sound of chatter at nearby tables. Never did I imagine I’d write it while waiting for the trains to resume on the metro, but here we are. As I like to say, every day in Japan is an adventure.
For those of you who don’t know, I’m a current English major studying in Tokyo for the academic year. So far, it’s been an amazing experience. For as long as I can remember, Japan has always been my number one country to visit, but studying abroad in High School was way too expensive, as some of you may know. So, when I entered my University and the opportunity to go abroad appeared, I jumped on it. English major be damned, I had a goal, and that was to live in Tokyo. A year and six months later here I be, writing it up on the metro. Adventure has a strange way of presenting itself.
Despite the current circumstances, one of the best things since coming to Japan has been the vast availability in transportation throughout the country. You can get just about anywhere you want by simple use of the trains located everywhere. It’s so convenient it terrifies me to think about how I’ll drive once back in America. Though, while it is a godsend for getting around the country, it can be a complete nightmare if you get on at the wrong time, and I’m not talking about the train getting delayed. Nope, we’re talking about rush hour!
All those stories you might hear about the trains getting so full they pushed the people in? Yep, those are all true. Every morning I commute to Waseda University via a forty-minute train ride and, because I have a 9 AM class, I need to leave by 8 at the latest. It just so happens, that’s when everyone else leaves to go to their respective destinations, too. The concept of “personal space” is nonexistent during this time. It’s as if we’re all sardines, cram packed into a tiny can and when you think no one else could possibly fit, five more shove their way in. Sounds terrible, right? Well, it kind of is.
When it’s hot outside the train is clammy and sticky and when it’s cold, it gets damp and musty. People jostle one another back and forth. Arms or legs fall asleep from lack of circulation. Sounds absolutely dismal, right?
Yeah, it is, BUT—and of course there’s a but; you didn’t think this would all be a bash to the country I love, did you?—this part of the train ride is also one of the best aspects of living in Japan. How? Well, it’s because it’s part of the everyday routine. When I get on that train every morning and all the people get on with me, it feels like I’m more than just some exchange student living in a foreign country. It’s as if I become a part of the culture, experiencing the same thing as my fellow passengers. It’s an everyday routine that I’m integrating into.
Studying abroad whether it be for an academic year, semester, or summer is this amazing opportunity that’s almost difficult to grasp with proper words. There’s so much to it, that the best way to understand and benefit is not by hearing about it, but by doing it. It may seem like this big, awe inflicting, dream to live in another country for any duration of time, but in reality it’s something that’s so simple to go after in university it almost feels like a crime not to take the opportunity while it’s right there in front of you.
I have only six months left in this exchange (not counting the one we’re in) and the clock is ticking down so fast, that half the time I feel like I have whiplash. There are so many things I’ve already experienced and done, but there’s a vast amount more to follow, which is why I’ll be seeing you in the next post. Thanks for reading!