Week 10, 11, 12: Much Needed Break

Read all the exciting things our scholars have been up to!

So it has been a while since I last updated my journey in Japan. However, I can explain the long absence. In the beginning of the semester the workload had been pretty light in terms of everything that has been going on, so it made it easier for me to do the weekly journals. However, as we are coming closer and closer to the end of the semester all of the projects and exams has been beginning to pile up on top of one another.

Needless to say I have been in a homework and presentation lockdown. I had no time for anything other than homework, studying, and making sure that I am eating properly throughout that time. Which throughout this experience I have had a bit of a learning experience throughout this time period. See while I do enjoy academics and continuously learning about the subjects that I have signed up for I began to notice I was putting myself in a bit of a standstill these past three weeks. It felt as though I was developing into a cycle of events that would just go pass me as my time here in Japan is quickly coming to a close. And slowly I could feel this start to take a toll on my body.

One day I had a conversation with my mom during one of our weekly calls and what she told me really helped a lot during these three weeks. She said that although I feel the need to want to completely everything it is okay if I take a break for myself and rest. Otherwise what is the point of me overdoing it and then have that result in a burnout. So slowly I started taking myself out of the dorm to take walks outside or taking the bus to a new location to give myself a chance to see a different set of scenery.

Additionally my birthday had happened during the three weeks, so I decided that I would go to Kyoto for the weekend of my birthday to spend some time for myself. So I left my computer back at the dorm (after completing important emails and homework that would be due) and went off on my trip.

During this little trip I was able to do so much with my time. First things first, I rode the Shinkansen for the very first time which was mind blowing because despite how fast it moves you do not feel it going at all. I will admit that it is a little expensive to ride, but I would say it is worth paying for the experience.

Anyways back to things I did in Kyoto, I got to explore the Kyoto Aquarium which is massive and something I would recommend. Also they have a cute little penguin relationship chart that they seemingly update every year. They also have other exhibits and a massive observation tank filled with amazing creatures like a sting ray, sharks, school of fish, jellyfish and more.

I also got to explore the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove and walk through the serene path. Although it was still crowded, that did not take me away from the tranquil moment I had in the grove. Afterwards I was able to ride a cable car where before getting on the car I helped a woman and her mother communicate with the ticket guy. Now my Japanese is not amazing, but I had the basic skills to be able to help them communicate what they were saying to this guy.

And just getting out allowed me to feel rejuvenated and remotivated to do finish strong with my homework, quizzes, presentation and anything else I had.

Lastly, while I usually have three piece of advice based off of my experience this time I only have one big one. And this is a piece of advice that I feel as though is necessary to hear for scenarios similar to the one I had just gone through. And that is: it is okay to stop working and to take a break even if it means going out and stepping away from your homework.

Before any misunderstandings is created please know that I am not advocating to not do homework while studying abroad. That would defeat the purpose of the whole experience. But what I am advocating for is being okay with stepping away from the poster, computer, or whatever assignment that has began to pile up as the days move forward. It is not the end of the world if someone has to leave away from the desk or the computer to either go on a walk or go out with some friends. If not then you will be at risk of burning out even faster than if you had incorporated a personal break in between the work sessions.

You do not have to take a random trip to Kyoto or spend tons of money. However, you also should not force yourself to go without a break in order to finish your work fast. Incorporate small windows to walk outside of the dorm or wherever you are staying and take a deep breathe in. Both your body and your mind will thank you for doing that for them.

Overall, I hope this has given you a bit of inspiration to take a breather and re-balance your work and personal life outside of school. Please stay tune for the next journal and I promise this time it will not take a while to upload!