Whether you are studying abroad in a different country or just going through your daily routine, I believe we are at the mercy to learn something new about ourselves, most of the time, unexpectedly and futhermore, unwillingly. It really surprises me how many people don’t stop and analzye why they do the things they do and why they feel the things they feel. Back at home, before I studied abroad or even thought about studying abroad, I handled my problems and complicated feelings by myself. Whatever came at me or confused me, I’d either try to keep it secret, ignore it or push through. Since I was busy with being a Resident Advisor, my education and my huge family, it was easy to push my feelings aside to get work done or fix a problem. And, of course, sometimes putting your feelings aside is necessary to experience new things. However, when you’re studying abroad, there’s a certain freedom or commodity you don’t get at home unless you set it aside, and even then you’ll only allow yourself so much of it before feeling guilty. This commodity is free time.
Free time is not something I aniticipated having, let alone valuing before studying abroad. I believe every student abroad student will experience a period of free time they didn’t expect they’d have, especially if they are a year long study abroad student. This free time is rare, unanticipated and unwanted. Now this may seem bad or undesirable for most people, but I think to ignore this free time or try to fill this free time could hinder the opporuinty for a life changing moment or decision, as it was for me.
I’ve been in Japan for six months now. I’ve been to most of the places I dreamed of seeing, Akihabara, Harajuku, Shibuya amongst so many others in Tokyo. I’ve fed deer in Nara, drank tea at Kinkakuji and walked down Gion in Kyoto, tried Fukuoka ramen and the list could go on and on. The point is I’ve traveled quite a bit in Japan, and if I want to travel anywhere else, not only will it take a good amount of money, the right season will take time out to do it. Right now Winter Intersession has started, so I can’t travel or I’d miss school. I know my own surrounding inside and out, I dare say. It’s winter now and my town experiencing an odd amount of snow, so it’s almost too cold to go out. That being said, lately, I’ve been stuck at home by myself, more than a little bored. It wasn’t until my school back home sent a reminder choosing classes for Fall semester in 2018 was coming up, did I realize this free time came at a very good time. True free time allows you the number one thing people want to do, but don’t seem to have enough time for it.
Time to think about your goals
Back at home with work, family and just everyday things, when you actually have a moment of time to give to yourself, most people will engage in what relaxes them. It could be reading, watching TV, scrolling down social media or just having a nice cup of a coffee. This free time is not to sit down with yourself and ask serious questions about what’s important to you. However, when you’re in a different country for a long period of time ‘s something about hearing a different language all the times, eating a variety of food and being surrounded by some many differences yet similarities, and YOU being in the middle of it all, that keeps you inspired. The time is just short enough too, just short enough for you to be constantly thinking of the future. And this feeling always in you while abroad, it and sometimes it’s an overhwhelming waterfall. I’m say this because you can use this sense of inspiration during this unallocated free time to your benefit.
You have the time to realy consider, with no normal distractions from home such as family and dreaded assignements, to look iwardly and decide when you get back home what do you want to start, why, and how you’re going to do it without the distraction being too tired or too busy. This time is so rare. You can’t squeeze in goal-setting time in your everday schedule back at home. For myself, I’ve been going back and forth with my major, really deciding if it’s really the right path for me. Without this free time in Japan, asking myself what I really want, I would’ve probably regretted in later in life, going for a major I wasn’t passionate about. It also doesn’t always have to be about your major or your job. It can be about your personal appearance. Do you want to be thinner, bigger or experiement with a new hairstyle or makeup? Being alone, actually doing some purposeful soul-searching abroad can be all you need to discover you were born to do something you never expected or challenge yourself to be someone you never expected you could be. Use this free time to discover you, truth of the matter is, you’ve probably got a lot to say.