Life is about taking chances, trying new things, having fun, making mistakes and learning from it.
“Are you nervous?” I’m asked that a lot, but to be honest . . . No, I’m not nervous. I’m not sure why, but I just have a peace about this trip. Maybe I can’t feel the nerves because my excitement is overwhelming. Or maybe the nerves will hit me when I’m on the plane. Or maybe . . . Maybe I just visualized myself in Japan for so long, that I already feel like it happened. Maybe . . .
With all that said, excitement is still bubbling up inside me. I have so many hopes, concerns, and expectations for this trip:
One of the number one things I hope to do in Japan is to meet my pen pals. They are all so loving and friendly. It would be amazing to sit down and talk with them face to face. We may even sing a bit of karaoke! I also hope to get a new perspective out of this experience. I want to be able to compare America to Japan. How my mom puts it, I won’t have culture shock when I go to Japan. Instead, I’ll have it when I come back to America.
Another thing I hope to do is meet a manga artist. I want to be able to ask them what their job is like and even make a connection. I’ve already contacted a manga artist named Jamie Lynn Lano. She was really sweet and gave me a lot of information. Perhaps I could meet her as well! Lastly, I really want to visit important landmarks like Mount Fuji. I also hope I’ll be able to visit Akihabara, an anime and technology town, and a natural hot spring, or onsen.
You would think my first concern would be the language barrier, but surprisingly it’s not. (To be honest, I don’t even think I thought much of it.) Surprisingly, it’s finding a gym! Yes, finding a gym, and a track. I want to be able to run and weight lift in order to prepare for my senior year of track when I come back home. But with all that aside, the language barrier might be my second concern since I’ll be communicating through charades for the first few weeks. (But from all of the stories I’ve heard, most students would come back knowing a lot of the language, unless their host family spoke English.) Either that or getting lost. Luckily, I had the smart idea to write down my host family’s address and phone number and store it in my wallet in case that happens. So, I think I’m good.
I expect to be greeted with a loving welcome and with open arms! This is an exciting journey not only for me, but also for my host family or anyone I meet. I expect to make life-long friends, and I know I’ll have a wonderful new family. A second home! And gosh darn it, I expect to come back to America speaking Japanese fluently, or enough to handle myself when I go back to japan (in college perhaps).
But above all else, I expect to get a lot of attention and a lot of stares not only because I am an American exchange student, but because I am an African American exchange student. Surprisingly, a lot of Japanese people have never seen black people in person, so they portray blacks as what they see on the media. Well, maybe I won’t be stared at as much since I’m in Tokyo. But still, I think by being in Japan, I can knock out some ideas of what black people are like from some people’s minds by being an example. Not all blacks are good at basketball, singing, and dancing. (Though, I am good in all of those areas.)
What do You Look Forward To?
KARAOKE! Yes! This is the top thing on my list! I definitely look forward to singing my lungs out and screaming all of my cares and worries away. I also look forward to joining an after school club at my host school. I really want to do something different from what I do in America (or at least join a club I was never in). Also, I look forward to living in the city again. Originally, I’m from San Francisco, but in the fourth grade, I moved to Indiana. So, I believe living in the city again will definitely help me with preparing for college life in New York.
There are so many things rummaging through my mind. My heart is still fluttering with excitement. All that I am about to experience can be a little scary and nerve wracking to some. But with all that said, I know I’ll be fine.