27 December 2015
It has been a week since I have been back home in San Francisco, CA. I became used to it immediately. So far, all of the reverse culture shock has not happened. What has happened though is the jet lag I have been suffering through. I learned that when travelng to the west, the jet lag symptoms include wanting to stay awake all the time or not being able to go to sleep (traveling to the east jet lag symptoms are the opposite; all you want to do is sleep). So yeah, I have had around two 24-hr days. It has been…quite the time.
One thing I’ve noticed I say a lot now is “that’s how it is in Japan…”
This phrase, I guess I have learned, is something I use because I am not sure how to express how much I miss Japan and the lifestyle I had studying abroad there. Even when others ask me “How was Japan?”, all I can say is something like, “It was so fun! I loved it!” because I cannot find the words to accurately describe my amazing experience.
Studying abroad in the Tokyo area has made the world a smaller and more accessible place to me. I feel I have less fear about traveling to countries where I can’t even speak the language. The most challenging thing for me while studying in Japan was getting over or getting accustomed to the language barrier. I really did not think I would be able to, so when I did, things went more smoothly for me. I even began to appreciate just how many opportunities I have had to learn other languages. I began to reflect on how difficult it must be for people who relocate to another country where they do not understand the spoken language. A lot of people quickly assume that lack of language comprehension means lack of intelligence or education. It is important to not view people in such a way; just because someone does not understand a language does not mean, in the slightest way, that they are uneducated or unintelligent. Going to Japan and being the one with the lack of language comprehension helped me to empathize with those who come to America to live and do not really speak English.
From a Cognitive Science (Major) point-of-view:
I have learned that the common human emotion that results from lack of knowledge, experience, or exposure, is fear. The phrase, “fear of the unknown” has never been proven true or more real to me than during my time studying abroad in Japan. I’m not saying everyone was afraid of me, but fear of what is uncommon or unfamiliar was easy to see as I commuted on the trains and came in close contact with people in Japan. This helped me to appreciate my study abroad experience and traveling experiences more overall. The ability to travel is really an incredible one that is often taken for granted. Simply boarding a plane and traveling abroad exposes the mind to different worlds that may be so unfamiliar. It changes perspective and deep-rooted preconceptions.
So if you ever get the opportunity, or if you currently have the opportunity, I would definitely recommend that you study abroad.
Thanks for reading my blogs!