Study Abroad in Japan!
In Spring 2018, I left UCSB to study abroad in one of the coolest countries in the world: Japan! Since I never left the continent before, I felt terrified at the prospect of living so far away from home, and in a place where I knew absolutely zero Japanese. Yet it was the prospect of stretching beyond my comfort zone and familiarity that drew me to study in Japan. I studied at Doshisha University in Kyoto, where I entered as a "Nichi-Bunsei" or as a student of Japanese Language and Culture. I dove right in immediately, eating savory Japanese cuisine and tea.
To not just survive, but thrive in a country that didn't speak my language felt like an impossible task. For every breakthrough I made in my studies, I took 2 steps back. The Japanese college system was unlike anything the laid-back standard of American universities, and I had to learn quickly that I wasn't there to travel but to learn. Against all odds I made it, and I managed to make a few lifelong friends and experiences along the way that I know I'll never forget. Within the 5 months that I lived in Japan I gained insight into a culture not simply as an outsider, but active and willing participant. Studying abroad was one of the best choices I made as a student at UCSB and if you haven't gone abroad, it is a must for the most well-rounded college experience.
Fortunately I arrived in the midst of spring when I landed in Osaka, Japan in late March. Japan is famous for their beautiful cherry blossoms (referred to in Japanese as sakurathat bloom across the country during this 2-3 week period. I was determined to see these world-renowned wonders for myself, and so I went to a small town south of Kyoto called Nara.
In Nara, the blossoms were incredible: their soft, white petals looked like heaps a snow strewn across every tree in sight. I wasn't the only one to marvel in their beauty, as there were tons of tourists from all over the world standing in awe of this natural wonder. Ancient Buddhist temples peaked through the tops of the sakura-covered canopy, the auburn wood shining in the afternoon sun. I'll never forget the aura of peace that I felt in the Japanese springtime, and I long for the moment when I can cradle feather-soft blossoms in my hands again.