Sheesh! Over two months in Japan; somehow time just keeps disappearing faster and faster.
I’ve never been on the go so much in my life; from place to place, adventure to adventure, and even country to country. Of course, I still try to incorporate some time for resting, a little sleep and classes, but it’s been a continuous experience that hasn’t brought any disappointment. I’d like to say that I have a grasp on what I’m doing, how I’m managing my time or any understanding on what I want to do with the next two months but it’s been a constant movement with the flow, little planning and with no idea what will come next.
To start, I figured I’d talk about class since that’s all my family back home seems to ask about: “Do you even go to class?”, “When’s the last time you did homework?”, or “It looks more like a vacation than school” are all common comments from both family and friends back home.
The answer is: yes, I make time for school; I attend all my classes (keep in mind, they’re attendance based); and I’ve managed to keep up with most of my homework so far. Classes can be a little hectic and somehow assignments and tests are (conveniently) usually due on Mondays. Either way, I think I have managed to find a nice balance between time spent on class work and my time to get out and see Japan.
- Remember to keep Fridays and Saturdays free.
- Do things early! It can be due in a month but when you have 30 minutes here and there, then get it done before a new plan pops up.
- Teachers know you came to both study & explore! Be straight up and most times they will be completely understanding.
- Trains, planes and automobiles make for perfect occasions to get the boring stuff done and pass as much time as possible.
I think now that two months have passed, I’ve grown fonder of Japan as a new place to call “home” and have a much greater understanding of the differences compared to Canada. The first month was filled with awkward encounters, communication barriers and various misunderstandings, but once you overcome those issues, learn a few basic Japanese phrases and just smile and laugh, things become much easier.
October was filled with great experiences purely because of the ability to just take things as they come, join in on random trips, and get out as much as I possibly could. This allowed me to meet some amazing people and go to places I would have otherwise not even looked at. Staying in your room seemed to be an easy trap for people around me to fall into, either from missing home, being frustrated with the different culture or being drained from the constant go-go-go but I think pushing past that is what creates the best opportunities which you’ll appreciate afterwards.
- “I’m Tired” is an excuse you will regret.
- The best way to make an awkward situation better is to just smile and laugh.
- Don’t get trapped in the comfort of your room.
- Keeping up with people at home can keep you motivated.
- Not everyone around you has the same ideas or plans and sometimes you just need to go in your own direction.
- The best days are the hardest mornings.
This was such a huge topic in the first month and realizing the amount that I would need for the next three months was a little scary. I felt like I had not saved enough and would be struggling to do all the things I had planned for the rest of the semester. I think what helped me the most through this was determining a budget of my exchange and decide what big purchases or trips meant the most to me while I’m here. This helped me not only set aside a certain amount of money for those trips but also determine how much I could spend on food on a day-to-day basis and what things I really needed versus things I could go without.
I highly recommend anyone going on exchange to do this, especially if you’re worried about about your budget. It kept me organized, slowed down my unnecessary spending, and made me a little more confident in the trips that I had planned for the next two months. I was also able to live a little more freely on those trips because of the money I had already set aside. It was also a stress relief that I would not look at my credit card the next week and have a pit in my stomach. Again, sometimes spending a little more money on certain things is a must. You’re only on exchange for a finite amount of time and if it’s something you’re truly interested in or have had on your mind, then spend the extra money there.
- Transportation is still one of the biggest expenses (try and find any discounts you can).
- Remember big purchases like flights, Airbnb’s and bus tickets add up quick.
- You can enjoy yourself just as much without spending a ton on every trip.
- Keep your budget up to date, it’ll keep you conscious of what you buy and when you buy it.
- Money isn’t everything, spend your time just as wisely because it will disappear just as fast.
If I told you I had a day off or weekend free from some sort of adventure, then I would be lying. I have been to so many different places, seen so many amazing things, and have a vast variety of amazing photos and stories to represent them.
I think that studying abroad is such a unique experience because it allows you to see things a tourist may have overlooked and usually have an inside view on the cultural aspects of places you are visiting. I no longer feel like I’m just a visitor and I feel like I can go places that I would have never been able to simply because of my attitude in that respect. Making friends with people from Japan (and also various countries around the world) provides a unique opportunity to get firsthand information on places. The information is much more personal than just reading an article online and it’s the best way to find the hidden gems.
- Minoo Falls
- Kobe Beach
- Pattaya Beach
- Pattaya Elephant Sanctuary
- The Grand Palace
- Wat Pho
- Banyan Tree
Japan has continued to be a whirlwind of trips and travel, new encounters and continuous learning. It honestly feels like a dream that I haven’t woken up from yet; moving from one plan to another and always on the go. Finally having everything organized has helped me call this place a second home and find complete comfort in anywhere I go. The people I have met along the way have also played a huge role in how my experience has gone so far and I don’t think I would have felt so welcome without them. I hope that the next two months continue to be a growth opportunity and be even more adventurous than the first two.
Braydon Armula is a fourth year Bachelor of Commerce student who is studying abroad in Japan.
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