So…in case anyone hasn’t noticed already…I haven’t posted anything on this blog until now. This is because I am not abroad yet, actually! Some students studying abroad have semesters on a similar schedule to Hope College, but in Japan, the spring semester is from April to July. This means I’ve had about a three-month long Christmas break!
So, what have I been doing all this time, while everyone else is already off having their adventures and settling into their new temporary homes? A lot more than you might think.
First and foremost, there is a lot of paperwork to be done: applications to the off-campus program and to Meiji Gakuin University, health forms, housing agreement, certificate of eligibility, visa application, plane ticket, health information, bank information, etc. Of course, the amount and content of study abroad paperwork differs from program to program, but the point is, there’s a lot, no matter where you’re going. (A word of advice to other students planning on studying abroad: stay on top of things. Fill out as many forms as you can the moment they are handed to you. Some papers have to be mailed long-distance, so the earlier you take care of them, the less likely you are to run in to possible last-minute delays or mistakes.)
Secondly, I’ve been trying to keep my language skills fresh by continuing to study with my Japanese classmates and contacting my friends who will be welcoming me after I arrive.
Thirdly, I’ve continued working at one of my jobs to try and gather up as much money as I can before I leave so that I can enjoy my experience there more fully.
Fourthly, my family and I have been cleaning the house so that there will be enough space for when I return. I’ve gone through some email clutter in my school account, too. I’ll only have a few weeks of summer after coming back to unpack everything and get ready for my senior year at Hope, so a lot of the things we are doing now are preparations for things I won’t have to do later.
And lastly, I’ve been spending my free time reconnecting with as many friends as I can. This has been a great opportunity to catch up with some people that I don’t get to see very often anyway, so I’m kind of liking the excuse of leaving the country to encourage some reunions. 😉 Thanks to all of you! And sorry to the ones I can’t catch before I take off; we will work out something once I get back. 🙂
I hope this will serve as a helpful tool for those of you thinking about traveling to another country for the first time, especially students. Any of the activities previously mentioned are a good way for you to spend your free time before you take off!
As you can see from everything I’ve been doing, getting ready for the big trip hasn’t been a total breeze. I don’t mean to say this as a downer, but as a practical viewpoint. This time is super exciting, yes! But it’s also full of responsibility and meticulous planning. So, I hope whatever kind of traveling you plan on doing in the future, that you handle it with care. The more you take care of beforehand will save you time and stress down the road. There will always be surprises that you can never plan for, so take care of whatever you do have control of.
Sorry if this post is kind of dry!! We’ll see how my other posts compare once I arrive in Japan. Thanks for sticking with me to the end here, and you will probably hear from me again very soon!