My pre-departure video, with reflections on my past challenges and new goals for this summer.
My name is Evelyn Kono. I’m currently a student at Citrus Community College and am so excited to be spending my summer semester in Kyoto, Japan. I’m a biology major, with the goal of continuing my education to be a geneticist. I truly believe the field of epigenetics is so promising for human health, and I want to join the fight against genetic disease. And I also want to do this in Japan.
Surprisingly, this isn’t actually my first time here. I came to Japan over 10 years ago as a bubbly, carefree teenager. I fell in love with the country- too bad I was a total tourist! I had fun, but as an inexperienced kid I didn’t really take full advantage of the situation. Though I’ll forever see that trip as life changing, it wouldn’t be until I was an adult when I’d try to take Japan seriously. And unfortunately, I made a few mistakes.
This was the view from the Kitazono Woman’s Dorm room in Tokyo, Japan. You can see a lovely kouen, or ‘park’.
2 years ago, I pooled all my resources into going to Japan for my first semester of college. It wasn’t supposed to only be for my first semester, but life rarely happens how you plan it. I had a few health issues, and one tiny issue in that I could not take a Japanese class. Despite all this I still did my best, but it was during that semester when I discovered my love of science. Unfortunately, the school I chose did not offer any sort of biology major. Faced with these challenges I had to make the very painful decision to return home, with nothing but student loans to show for my efforts.
Last fall I learned some harsh realities about how early civilizations interacted with each other, and unfortunately I saw a lot of my unconscious bias in these lessons. I didn’t mean to resist so much change during my first college semester, but I did. I ate a bunch of imported foods, rather than what was offered at the local farmer’s markets. I chalked it up to what I was craving, but what a waste! I also didn’t even look at bikes for sale, which I’d argue are more essential than cars in Japan. Clothing, books, appliances, these are all things I brought from home. I took America to Japan, I didn’t let Japan take me.
This trip abroad has given me something that I’m not even sure I deserve, a true second chance. And you better believe that I’ll be taking this summer seriously. I want to treat this as my final test to see if I can survive here. I want to eat the local cuisine, learn the customs and realities of living in Kyoto, and bust out Japanese as much as possible. I will take only the bare minimum of items with me, if I want something else, I’ll just have to find it. I know it’s a short trip, but it’s one whole month. One month to really see if I can be an good guest in this country. And maybe, just maybe, a future citizen.
I’m so grateful to the Fund for Education Abroad for giving me this opportunity, and I promise I will not waste it. If you want to stick around for this blog I’ll see you in the next entry, when I finally depart. I can’t wait! Sayoonara!