When I returned after a semester in Japan, I was depressed.
I went from living in a tight-knit international dorm in Nara- always with other internationals- to being a solo student not always surrounded by friends in America. After months of dealing with something on my return (depression) I had never dealt with before, things gradually got better.
It was more of a readjustment to being back in a different lifestyle than anything. I wasn't desperately missing Japan like many people I know in the same situation. But
I deeply missed the people and the connections I had made.
I also did, and still do, miss the landscape, architectural layout and typical foods that are difficult to come by here in our neck of the woods.
Things changed for me after the Japan experience in many dynamic ways.
Of course I had great experiences both abroad and at home, but the adjustment was an experience in itself.
Eventually (maybe about 4-5 months later) I gradually got my self confidence back, I didn't feel abandoned and I felt consistently happy and normal.
Little things like visiting with friends, going to the movies, painting, and new experiences helped me to re-adjust to my newly altered life back home.
Now I am working at a radio station reporting news and striving towards a spring graduation as a journalist. Looking forward, I plan to gain more news experience with a local news organization and then eventually be a foreign correspondent.
I hope to keep getting better, using what I have learned in Japan, and at home to become a better more experienced journalist who is connected to the people I report about and work with.
For the repayment scholarship project I planned to do events when I returned from January til May that would help bring members of my community together to learn and enjoy parts of Japanese language and culture.
Here are some of the event recaps:
-My first event was helping with the Study Abroad Expo at CMU where I talked with students about my experiences, offered advice and answered questions about Nara and what I did while studying there.
-One event was to have a Teen Night at the Chippewa River District Library where teens learned about writing styles of Japanese, made candy sushi, had a scavenger hunt, and conversations about living in Japan.
-I met with a Japanese language class and talked with them about my stay, study and learning Japanese. I also answered questions and was able to meet with enthusiastic students beginning their journey of discovery.
-Another event was a live web chat with an expat living long term in Japan. Hiroki Matsuuchi answered questions about living in Japan and also talked with students about practices in Japan as far as business, politics, language etc.
-I also organized a Children's Day Holiday celebration at t he CRDL Library for families on May 5th where kids could do origami, practice with chopsticks, color, write in Japanese, and make Teru Teru Bozu to scare away the rain.
-I helped to organize a table representing Japan at the 2014 International Expo where people could learn more about places to visit, see a Yukata, meet Japanese people, learn phrases, write in Japanese etc.
- Before going to Nara I had the opportunity to talk with and do video interviews with several Japanese students from Okaya Japan and I am still working on editing and translating the video and will post a link as soon as I have completed it.
-Another project was actually done while in Japan, I did an independent photojournalism class while in Nara where I learned about three Japanese people and concepts while in Japan through photographing them
Independent Photojournalism Class
PART III. Useful links for students and others in similar situations
Starting out preparations dealing with the paperwork process. I had to choose between Nara University and Hikone options for my school.
Basically it came down to price and Nara won, it also helped that Nara was the original capital and traditional focal point within Japan.
Applying was a whirlwind of hurry up and wait.
I had to hurry up and prepare for deadlines and then wait for government and other agencies to get back with me with acceptance letters, scholarship information etc.
I tried to apply for everything and prepare for what I could far in advance which helped me be prepared, but also made me anxious at times since I had to wait for responses.
Once I had finished applying and was accepted and received scholarships, bought my round trip ticket through travel agency and had packed my 2 bags as lightly as I could, I found myself in Nara, Japan.
Soon I was adjusting to my new school, a dorm setting and living in Japan.I was photographing for fun and class, and taking little videos here and there when I could. This was also a way to cope with changes and living without my boyfriend and in a new environment.
I also turned to art as a way of adjusting. Viewing and creating art really kept me going. I went to museums, did fun watercolors, listened to little known performers, even made pottery as part of a school trip.
Festivals were something to look forward to as something to enjoy as well as something representative of the Japanese culture I was trying to learn more about.
There were many other adventures I did and did not write about, but I encourage you to go out and explore and have your very own unique adventure.
Thanks for reading!
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