When I initially started college, I didn’t believe I would ever go on a study abroad trip – let alone one in Japan. Study abroad programs are always depicted so ideally as impossibly life changing experiences; to me they were something out of reach and too good to be true. Furthermore, as a pre-medical student my life was already filled to the brim with responsibilities and experiences that were already spreading my free time and academic availability thin. In fact, I applied previously for program in Florence, just to be denied on the basis of not needing to take a basic science (Organic Chemistry) that I had already frontloaded onto my schedule in preparation for my graduate admissions test. The thought stayed in the back of my mind, however, and the opportunity arose when due to the fine text in my BS/MD program I wouldn’t graduate for the summer before I began medical school.
My name is Louis Leon, and I am travelling to Japan for Summer 2018 in the USF Japan Study with the help of the Genshaft/Greenbaum Passport Scholarship and the USF Tradition of Excellence Passport Scholarship. I’m a 7 year BS/MD student with a major in biomedical sciences and minor in philosophy who will be matriculating to USF’s Morsani College of Medicine in the fall. However, as the picture shows above, I try not to take life too seriously. This upcoming trip to Japan is a blend of (mostly) personal and professional interests that focus around understanding a new culture. My experiences of Japan have been limited to the stereotypical: what I know from their history is the country’s relation to the US, and what I know from their society the exported exoticism and pop-culture. This being said, I admit this flaw, but gleefully anticipate the upcoming unfamiliarity and exploration. I do not want to travel somewhere simply for what I may think is fun at first glance, but I want to engage – I do not want to remain in my American comfort zone. Considering these personal motives, I am greatly looking forward to the many shrine visits we have lined up, and have scheduled myself to stay a week longer after the trip concludes in Tokyo. In Tokyo I will be following some of my personal interests to the way Japan presents them: I will hike outside Tokyo, visit the Ghibli museum, attempt to take in Akihabara district, visit a izakaya in Shimbashi at night, rest in Rikugien Garden, stop by the stationary store Itoya Ginza, and slow down at the National Museum Of Modern Art, among many other things.
With my flight coming Sunday I can only hope I’ve prepared enough to match my excitement.