Setting Yearly Goals while Studying Abroad




New Year’s Resolutions

As we know, it is officially 2018, and whether 2017 was a good year or bad, a new year always provides an opportunity to do new things. Set fresh goals, begin healthy habits. Back at home, every New Year’s Eve, my dad would encourage my siblings and I to write down New Year’s Resolutions.

I know most people find New Year’s Resolutions to be a waste of time, because you will inevitably break them. But for me, I always saw New Year’s Resolutions as they were meant to be: goals to strive for. No matter if they begin in the beginning of the year or in the middle of November, a goal you set is yours to pursue, no matter the odds. As I tried to write down my 10 New Year’s Resolutions, laying down on my hostel bed in Tokyo, it was the first time my New Year’s Resolutions were hard to come up with.

You see, since I’ll be in Japan until the end of July, it felt like half my life was going to be spent in Japan and the other half back at home in America. How do I write what I want to accomplish in 2018 with, what feels like, two very different worlds to accomplish goals in? As I was pondering this, my friend told me to write down goals like, “You’ll learn 20 kanji characters everyday.  Or, you’ll read in Japanese every night, pass the JLPT 2.” As I was going to write down some of these goals, I realized language learning wasn’t the only goal I wanted to accomplish. In fact, most of my goals I wanted to write down didn’t have anything to do with language learning.

I had goals inside me that had nothing to do with Japan, nothing to do with Japanese and nothing to do with studying abroad, even though all of those things feel like my life right now.

My goals of 2018 having nothing to do with Japan and language learning really surprised me. Aren’t I supposed to only want to be better at Japanese while I’m actually studying abroad in Japan? Shouldn’t I soak up every opportunity around me and that be my entire focus while living abroad? Most of myself says, “Yes, focus on Japanese! Learn Japanese! You won’t have this opportunity forever.” But my intuition tells  me, “But is that what you want? Do you want to focus on Japanese only? And living abroad only?”

My answer actually came to me at Haneada Airport in Tokyo as I was waiting to broad my flight to Nagasaki. As I was watching people scramble to get to their destination on time and reflecting on all the places I had seen in Tokyo; the gigantic billboards at Shibuya crossing, the eccentric fashion down Harajuku, Tokyo Skytree, Meiji Temple, the blinding arcades in Akiba, Tokyo Disneyland and everything in Ikebukuro. I kept thinking how in just a few hours I wouldn’t be in Tokyo anymore, how odd it felt to go from place to place, and now be in an airport. And in a few hours, I would be in Nagasaki seeing completely different views. And that’s when I learned, Studying abroad is a chapter in my life, not the whole book. 

Life is a continuous process of moment to moment; hardly anything is constant or constrained. So why should my goals be? Yes, I want to become better at Japanese. Yes, studying abroad is important, and you should take every opportunity during it. But it’s not everything, and it shouldn’t be everything. If you are studying abroad right now or plan to during 2018, remember studying abroad is a goal. You accomplished it; enjoy it, make it one of the most thrilling chapters even you can’t stop reading. But even more importantly, move on and set up new goals, and don’t hold back no matter where you are or where you think you’ll be. As for me in 2018, my goals stand as they are and I will pursue them even where I am and when I get back home.

My 2018 New Year’s Resolutions:

  1. I want to actively be a part of non-profit.
  2. I want to publish 1 literary work.
  3. I want to travel to a different country.
  4. I want a part time job in Japan.
  5. I want to build my own website/blog/small business.
  6. I want to start an engaging YouTube Channel.
  7. I want to cosplay in 1 Japanese con.
  8. I want to date more.
  9. I want to do an internship directed towards the movie industry.
  10. (blank) As I get to pick one spontaneous goal to pursue.

Keep me accountable!

-Temperance Talley