Today's the day. As I lay here in my bed at home in the midst of cozy, quiet suburban Maryland, I know that the journey ahead of me will be wild, to say the least. I've spent all day packing and months preparing for this. The time has come for me to go to Japan. The moment I step onto that plane, I know it'll finally feel real.
All my life, I've dreamed of Japan. Now, studying the language and learning the culture will only be augmented by the experience of immersion into the society itself. It's sort of like putting a sponge into water-- I'm the sponge, Japan's the water (duh). I can't help but feel grateful for this experience to come. My friends have called me worldly before, and I think that's such a funny way to describe someone. I just really want to experience it all, to understand the hearts of others, and to see this earth through my own eyes. Japan's my starting point, but I've got the rest of my life ahead of me.
I'm not really a person who does stress, so packing and preparing for this semester have been relatively chill. I've got my suitcases full of clothes--mostly black, of course--and I've got all my paperwork in line. In the past few weeks, I've said goodbye to friends and had little celebrations to mark my going away, my birthday, life, whatever. I'm usually pretty dramatic, but this is one of those situations in which I don't feel the need to be extra about anything. I'll be back. I'll be changed, for sure, but so what? We learn, we grow. That's life. We're all growing out here and at this time, and sometimes we have to do it independent of one another. I'm choosing to leave all that I've worked to build in the last two years of college for a bit, but I know I'll come back stronger and better, so it's all good. Those who choose to stay in my life will be there when I'm back. The world isn't ending!
Anyways, I'm also the kind of person who meticulously checks his belongings at least five times before embarking on any type of departure. I've packed all my clothes for summer, fall, and early winter; I've made sure that all my toiletries, hygiene products, and cosmetics are in line; I've left room in my luggage for the inevitable pounds of things I will bring back after months of living and shopping in Japan. As someone who has so many clothes, that last part was a bit hard for me, but definitely critical.
The journey to Japan will probably seem like forever. I'll be thinking of all the food I'm going to eat and all the places I want to travel to while en route. I can't even imagine the kinds of people I'll meet--once again, no expectations--and that's what makes this experience a bit more exciting. It's like starting fresh, kinda. I'll also be thinking of all the potential this semester has in store like the ability to further develop my fourth language, the ability to gain some sense of self, or the ability to have some clarity of mind.
Right now, I feel fine. Excited is definitely one word to describe my demeanor. Scared? Nervous? Anxious? Nah. That's not me. I've looked forward to this experience for too long to feel anything but a sense of joy and excitement. I'm not the kind of person to go into new situations with fear or worry because that would do me no good. I haven't the slightest of expectations for what lies ahead in the upcoming months. For once, I really am at the mercy of the moment. Regardless, I'm ready.
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<p>Hi, I'm Alex. I'm a junior at Columbia University majoring in Urban Studies and dabbling in other areas of interest like race & ethnicity studies. Outside of school, I like to eat, cook, take pictures, shop, have long conversations, and travel. Food, fashion, culture, literature, and music are all things I love. Black and gold are my favorite colors. Having lived in New York City for two years now, I feel quite at home. However, living in Japan is something I have wanted to do all my life, so I'm quite excited to finally live out that dream. From the local culture to the food to the fashion, I'm pumped to engage with it all during my semester abroad.</p>