Pre-departure: Introductions and Managing Stress

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Hello Readers,

My name is Miriam Ruiz and I am a junior at Macalester College. I am from Florida and love wandering around outside and drawing. I am a Creative Writing and Japanese double major with a Studio Art minor studying away at Kansai Gaidai in Japan. Judging by some of the connections between those interests, you might be able to infer a bit about me, but I’ll take any opportunity to gush about the animation industry, so I’ll explain a bit below!

Ever since I was a child, I’ve dreamt about working in the animation industry as a writer/storyboard artist which is why studying away presented itself as the perfect opportunity to go to Japan and learn about one of the liveliest animation industries in the world. For this reason, I am absolutely ecstatic about attending Kansai Gaidai and devoting this semester to my craft and to learning more about the country and people I’ll likely be working with in the future.

From this semester-long journey, I’m hoping to learn more about the world and what stories other people hold dear and inspire them. I’m curious about how learning about Japanese aesthetics at Kansai Gaidai will open my perspective on the practices and thought processes that are valuable in the art world. I hope to implement new techniques into my practice as well! Additionally, I just really enjoy the Japanese language, so I intend on spending more time speaking and writing in Japanese throughout everyday life while abroad.

All I’ve been able to think about up until now were the practical, logistical aspects of travel. Being my first time abroad, I’ve been quite anxious throughout this process. There was always this worry that I filled something out wrong or perhaps my visa wouldn’t get to me in time. But I can happily say, the world did not end, so no matter what happens, reader, just know it will be okay! What I’ve learned through this process is that there really is only so much one can prepare for. I think what matters most is calming your mind to allow you to become open to this whole experience and to trust in yourself that even if there are minor disasters, there are so many ways everything can still go right!

To be honest, this whole thing still feels surreal to me. I’ve never left the country before, so to have this opportunity makes me feel incredibly grateful. I’m sure by the time I settle in at Kansai Gaidai, it may start to set in, but until then, I’ll be sitting at Tampa International Airport wondering how I’d gotten so lucky and still not quite believing this is happening.

I hope if anything could be garnered from this premiere entry it’s that it’s okay that you feel a little overwhelmed at times with particulars or underprepared emotionally. It’s a stressful process sometimes, especially when you can’t control certain aspects, or you have to put in extra trust that things will work out. I think for a lot of us, despite our drive to pursue our goals or desire to explore, there are still moments of uncertainty in terms of what to do or how to truly prepare. What I’ve found is that sometimes jumping in and allowing the space for positive change emotionally really is the only way to create the experiences that enrich our lives. It’s all going to be okay even if it doesn’t always feel like it!

Thank you for reading and I hope that if any random tidbits I learned or anecdotes interested you that you’ll continue to follow me along on this journey. A special thank you to everyone who made this adventure possible!