Only two more weeks until I hop on a plane bound for Japan!
I can’t believe this long waiting period is finally almost over. I can’t even count the number of times people have asked me how studying abroad is going and I’ve had to be like, “Well, actually…”. It’s hard having to sit around and wait for your program to start while your other friends are already off running around the globe on their programs. I’ve managed to stay busy with an internship in my hometown, but not being able to practice Japanese on a daily basis in a class makes it difficult to keep up with studying. It’s especially hard to practice speaking and listening when you don’t have someone there all the time who also speaks the language. Right now, the closest I get is when I say something in Japanese to my parents (but then immediately have to follow up with an English translation). I did manage to teach them how to say “Itadakimasu” (basically “Let’s eat”) though, so I’d say we’re making progress.
Also, to any future program participants who may be reading this, I highly recommend you sign up for the e-Pal program. It’s a great chance to get to practice the language as well as potentially make a friend before you go abroad. I happen to be the only person from Indiana University traveling to Tokyo through IES this semester (hard to believe given my school is 40,000 students strong), so the prospect of entering a country of 127 million and not knowing a single person was a bit daunting to say the least. Now, however, I at least will know one person, and that’s a whole lot better than none.
This is actually my second time going to Tokyo, the first time being about six years ago when I was in high school. I went on vacation with my family and absolutely loved it. I’m so excited to have the opportunity to go back, this time with a better understanding of the language, the culture, and how to use a rice cooker. Seriously, the first time my sister and I used one the instructions were in Japanese so we had no idea what we were doing. I think the only time we got it to work was out of sheer dumb luck.
So wish me luck everyone! I’m this close to starting an amazing journey.
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<p>Mikaela is a junior at Indiana University majoring in International Studies and East Asian Languages & Cultures. Originally from the suburbs of Chicago, she has spent the past few years enjoying life as a Hoosier while dreaming of the day she finally got to go abroad. Traveling is one of her greatest passions and she looks forward to exploring not only Tokyo but as much of Japan as possible during her semester abroad. She is actively involved in both her sorority and International Studies Honor Society, and enjoys reading, hiking, and drinking tea in her free time. She is so excited for the adventure that lies ahead and can’t wait to share it with everyone!</p>