First encounters in Kyoto


At the time of writing this (but likely not posting), I am two weeks into studying abroad in beautiful Kyoto, Japan! I’m stumbling through communicating in Japanese, and I’m still getting the hang of balancing class work and Kyoto exploration. Still, I couldn’t be happier to face the problems that studying abroad entails, because being able to call Japan my home for two whole months is a luxury that I didn’t know would be possible, say, just a couple months ago.

This is my first time ever leaving the United States, so everything so far has been (almost embarrassingly) new to me. For the sake of keeping these memories, I’ll try to list a few.

For the first time, I’ve traveled internationally – and it took over 24 hours. A whole day of my life was dedicated to driving to the airport, waiting in the TSA line, flying (12 hour flights are no joke!), taking trains, and of course, being lost and confused – all by myself and on five hours of sleep. I think the communication and problem solving required for my trip has already caused me to mature as a person.

I went to the largest train station I’ve been to in my life. I believe that major train stations in Japan tend to have malls inside of them, but I’ve heard that the size of Kyoto Station even shocks tourists from Tokyo!

I was able to hold several (miscommunication-ridden) conversations in Japanese with people whom I could only try to communicate with in Japanese. Before these past two weeks, I’ve used English as a crutch during speaking practice in class, so now I’m finally in some real world situations that require Japanese. Even just a few hours of committing to speaking Japanese only has caused me to improve my listening and speaking skills. I’m so excited for my growth these next few months!!

I saw beer, soju, and cigarette vending machines! Japan is crazy.

I’ve seen unbelievably beautiful sights. I can’t stress enough how beautiful of a city Kyoto is. It’s completely different from anything I’ve seen before– the city is a mix of nature, urban architecture, palaces, and temples. All I want to do is explore more of the city. Thank god for reliable Japanese public transit.