Journals from Rikkyo University, Japan
2009-08-24 What A Year
As a guy that had grown up in a small town in Hawaii I wasnt extremely excited about the fact that I would be living out the next year or so in the biggest city on the planet. Combined with the fact that I would be in a whole new country, I was petrified upon coming to Tokyo. People everywhere bumping and pushing and piling into trains, something that even if there were no people would take some time getting used to. If I could fit into an ant colony I imagined it would be something like this. I was suffocating.
This sense of suffocation led me to seek out places that made me more relaxed. I got on the train and went places and for those first few months I often found myself in Yokohama, Harajuku, Yoyogi Koen and Rikkyo Campus, which, when quiet and peaceful, is actually magnificently beautiful, especially in the fall when the leaves decorate the ground with yellows and reds briefly before they are collected by maintenance.
All this time I tried to get out and speak Japanese as much as I could with friends and at stores and such. Any time spent in my room just made me depressed, not something I recommend in your first months abroad. Get out and about; this is how your language skills improve and its how you make friends too.
If there is anything that I have learned from this experience, its that you have to be flexible and you have to be yourself. Dont let the little things bother you. If you do you could find yourself in worlds of pain complaining about how so many things are different and how the way things are done in your own country is better. Maybe in some cases thats true, but its your study abroad experience, and you are there to do things the way people from your host country do them. However, while doing this it is important to stay true to yourself and what you believe; dont go against your own values just to fit in. In many cases this is a double standard and thats why being flexible is key.
As for what to do now, well, that is the big question. Being away from golf for an entire year has somehow re-ignited a deeply rooted passion of mine and I cannot wait to get out there and give a career in golf a legitimate chance. However, I have also found something in Japan that perhaps takes precedence over that and so I must be patient--first things first. I will return to Linfield College in Oregon, get a job, make some money, and strive towards graduating and returning to Japan via the JET Program, for which I will begin the application process this fall. Throughout all of this my biggest challenge will be to keep things simple and focus on my goals. Work hard, enjoy playing golf, and find a way back to Japan and if I could somehow find a way to employ my golf interests in Japan, reaching my goals would taste that much better.