It’s officially been seven months since I arrived in the Land of the Rising Sun! It’s Spring Time in Japan and things are getting pretty busy. I started my Spring Semester courses, greeted the Spring Semester exchange students, planned homework for my students at my part-time teaching job and even started a regular excerise routine. As things go, this semester feels like it’s going to be a good one to end my time in Japan.
As much as I can be excited about this great start off, I can’t stop stop thinking about the inevitable. A certain pressure every student studying abroad will face coming to the end of their study abroad experience. And it’s the truth that your study abroad experience is finishing. What I mean is, as your study abroad experience is less than three months to go, life back home becomes more prominent. For example, registering for classes back at your home university, where you’re going to living next semester, finding a job, just buying your flight ticket back home can be overwhelming. When you’re studying abroad, you’ll be dealing a lot with the here and now, whatever is right in front of you. Matters back home will feel like future stuff, things you can do later but when it’s almost time to go home, they will coexist.
So what did I do to combat dealing with home matters while studying abroad? Well, I called my mom. I called her, telling her all the things I had to figure out and how it felt like I needed to figure them out now, before I even went back home. I want a job when I come back home, do I start looking now? I want to live in student housing, how do I pick when I’m not even in the states? I need a car, should I be saving now for one? But there are still places in Japan I want to travel to, should I not go to those places? All of these questions seemed imperative and needed action now. My mom listened without interrupting, took a minute to respond, as mothers do, and gave me a bit of advice I thought students who are a lot like me, a little bit of a control freak, really needed to hear.
She said, “Sweetie, just enjoy your last few months in Japan. You can stay here if you need to and save for a car and the rest you’ll figure out when you get here. Enjoy what’s right in front of you. You don’t know how precious this time is in your life. Just enjoy it.”
It’s crazy how simple this advice is and yet the peace I felt when I heard it was extraordinary. I only have three months left in Japan and the number is shortening as time goes. I don’t want them to be stressful, full of restrictions or anxiousness. I want to live every day of these three months in Japan, not in the future of months ahead. So, I encourage you, students of the world, to not let the last few moments you have abroad be taken for the need of control. Breathe. And as my mom said, “Just enjoy.”
Living each day in Japan,