Nicolas Nagaoka, Writer
Never fly during typhoon season.
I never thought that statement would have been the first lesson of my time spent studying abroad. I did not know what to expect from study abroad, but I was nervous and tired when I began my journey. Thoughts of not being able to fit in, missing international documents, and taking less-than-stellar classes all rushed through my mind. However, the bus ride from the airport to the school calmed my nerves. I began chatting with some girls from Australia and soon we became friends as we bonded over videogames, anime, and a love for Japanese culture. While we would not be living in the same dorm, I felt elated to know that I had made friends in this program. Using this newfound confidence, I began talking to more people and found out that I have a lot in common with many of the students participating in the program. I found a great sense of community and fun as we went out to explore Kansai and Osaka, even playing Dungeons and Dragons some nights. It has only been a week, and I have found some of the greatest people from around the world. I am absolutely amazed by the diversity of the international students. I have met over 60 people at this point and have seen at least 20 to 25 different nationalities represented. It is incredible to be sitting in a room with dozens of people all representing different nations.
However, the primary reason I began this program was to participate in Japanese culture and to learn the language. My legs have never hurt as much as they do now, resulting from the adventures in Osaka and the local area around Kansai Gaidai. I got to see a much more different side of Japan. Osaka, while still a rather large city, has a different vibe than somewhere like Tokyo. The people were kinder and warmer, especially dealing with us loud Westerners. They are a happy people, gladly helping out those in need and even trying to understand foreigners. There was a hidden joy in the hearts of the Osaka and Kansai people. I loved the interactions, and by simply being around them I felt a strange connection to my heritage.
As a third-generation Japanese man, I had no clue how to represent myself or even the culture that I was both learning and teaching others. Yet, I felt joy and happiness being able to experience Japanese culture as well as teaching my new friends about all the parts I was taught as a child. Classes have not yet begun, but all the nerves have left my body. This has been the most exhilarating experience in all my years of education. I hope that the many students at Rollins College seek out an international program because this has been an absolutely amazing experience.
Micah Bradley & Sianna Boschetti, Writers
Well, here we are. After 54 combined travel hours, we find ourselves at the cold and rainy, but beautiful, Lancaster University in Lancanshire, England. After several travel snafus and several long layovers, our total travel count comes to two car rides, one bus, five planes, seven airports, and one train. But it was totally worth it.
So far, we’ve been doing orientation with other international students and basically chilling in Celsius—it’s 16 degrees Celsius here, but who knows what that means? Some of our surprises have included cooking for ourselves (ramen noodles, anyone?), forgetting to pack towels, and a campus that is approximately one thousand million times bigger than Rollins.
It quickly became apparent that we had forgotten a few key necessities. We stumbled across campus late the evening of our arrival in search of towels, toothpaste, cookware, and the many other overlooked items, until we came across a small grocery store on campus. We bought enough toiletries to freshen up for the next day. Later, we returned to the same plaza to find a secondhand store, where we bought cookware to last both of us for the semester—all for under £10.00. Upstairs from the secondhand shop, we found a post office and postcards to send home (it’s £1.05 to send one postcard to the US!).
Though we have been having a great time exploring the land across the pond, there are definitely some things that are not so fun for your plucky American wanderers. For example, Micah finally found the missing car key to her VW bug in the front pocket of her purse. Her mother was not happy that the key had accidentally stowed away on a Transatlantic flight, especially since Micah had promised several times that, yes, she had searched that purse.
Meanwhile, Sianna’s mother was also not happy, after realizing how difficult it can be to call someone overseas without an international data plan. Fortunately, the wi-fi is relatively stable on campus, and Facebook acts as a decent substitute for communication with our family and friends at home, as well as with our new friends from Lancaster and beyond.
Unlike our mothers, we are both extremely happy. So far, we have met lots of cool people, mostly from America, but some from Europe. The International Summer Program has planned social activites for us, including a wine reception and a traditional afternoon tea. Of course, the best bonding comes in the unplanned moments, like trying to chase the WiFi on campus to play Pokemon Go without using any phone data, and comparing the German names of Pokemon to the English ones. (Who knew Rattata was named “Rattfratz” in German, literally translated to “Rat Face”? We do, thanks to our new German friend.)
The four week program includes a trip to Dove Cottage (William Wordsworth’s house), a day jaunt to Liverpool, and lectures on British history. Move over Blackboard—during orientation we were given a bound book of every reading for the class, over 100 pages of academic articles, poetry, short stories, and blog articles. We were nerdily super excited to start reading our packets a week before anything was due.
Anyways, thanks for reading about our adventures. We are super jet lagged and tired, and we are going to bed now. Cheers.
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