Get Around (Living in Akita, Pt 2)

Living somewhere with a deep cultural tradition and gorgeous landscape, set with solemn shrines and a unique aesthetic, is great- unless you never leave your room.

Since getting here I’ve met a few (read: few) students who, after arriving here, have found its easier to commute only between their rooms and classes. They cook in their kitchens, occasionally leave to the school store for essentials on the way back from class, and generally stay on a track that keeps them from doing anything other than studying abroad.

While there’s nothing particularly wrong with that, you can’t take advantage of many of the advantages of study abroad by doing that. While Akita International University in particular is a uniquely global environment, in many cases one can default to English in their own room, putting themselves in a position not only to miss out on cultural opportunities, but also to miss out on getting practice with language study.

Because of that, I’ve found it’s important to remember a few things; first of which is that most everyone doing study abroad is at least as eager as anyone else to go see the country they’re living in. The majority of people are just waiting for opportunities to go out and see the world around them, but most people also have a tendency to avoid going alone. Being the person who instigates adventure is a great thing.

If you don’t want that pressure, find people who do; there are always people who are more active at finding things to do, who’d love to lead others through the things they’re discovering. Even if it feels like it’s too late, and everyone’s got their pods and cliques already, there’s always room for one more. People don’t do study abroad to not meet more people. Usually.

It’s also good to remember that it’s fine, and often fun, to do things alone. You don’t need a group of people to go out; often, groups fall into each other and can miss out on the world around them because they’re distracted by the people around them- which isn’t bad, but can obscure the clearer view one can have alone, with only their immediate environment and its people as company.

頑張って!

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