This is my final post regarding my trip to Japan. Read the previous post here, or jump to the first one to read the whole adventure.
It is, unsurprisingly, disappointing to be ordered to return home due to a global pandemic. It’s frustrating that I was sent from a country that currently has 9 cases of COVID-19 per million, to one that has 139 cases per million; equally frustrating that the Florida government thought that that was a good idea. It’s depressing knowing that there wasn’t anything I can do about it except meekly say “Yes, sir” and return home. It’s a bad situation, but I’m safe, so it could easily be worse.
My final days weren’t too notable, given the unofficial orders to take shelter and stay home. I did take one final trip outside to observe the plum blossoms bloom and to head to a nearby castle. Perhaps one of the more satisfying trips, the lack of people made traveling a bit easier.
Looking back on the trip as a whole, I’m definitely glad I went, but there was definitely issues that I could have handled better. For those who are following me, I’d definitely recommend starting early. When I first came to USF, over two years ago, the very first semester, I went to an office (not the right one, to be fair) and requested the paperwork necessary to study abroad in Japan. I thought because I’d started early, I’d be fine. Who knew that I should have started earlier? In reality, that was plenty soon, but even with that, I always felt like I was playing catch-up with every document and paper I was handed. Staying on top of the paperwork was half the battle.
The admissions process was surprisingly easy. USF has a good Japanese exchange program, and given that they’re a global university, they’ve probably got a good exchange program for your country of choice, too. Keeping up with the paperwork is a must, though; I almost didn’t make this trip because I messed up filing for my student visa.
The classes abroad were surprisingly difficult. The electives I took at Kansai Gaidai weren’t particularly difficult, but the main class as well as the Kanji were (and are) somewhat challenging. People were placed into classes based on a placement test, and that placement test said that I went into a level higher than I planned on. Looking back, I definitely should have gone to someone and requested the lower, correct class; I think I would have enjoyed my time more if I focused on schoolwork less.
I received advise from someone close to me that I should try to travel every weekend. I did this… for the most part. That advise definitely helped me get out more and do things I otherwise wouldn’t have. I think if I hadn’t received that advice, I would have planned for one big trip to Tokyo, and that’d be it. And that would have gotten canceled due to COVID-19. If you’re going abroad, try to visit a new, unique location every weekend, even if that’s just a mountain 30 minutes away by bike, or a local shop recommended to you by a native. Taking the smaller trips is just as important as the big ones.
I don’t think this will be my last time in Japan. I think I’ll arrive there again, someway, somehow. But I guess only time will tell.