So the Sun Finally Begins to Rise

After what seemed like an eternity and the whole winter, which transformed magically into 80 degree summer weather, my study abroad to Japan will be starting in less than 2 weeks. At first, it kind of irritated me that while all the European and South-American students already left on their trips, I was still in the states twiddling my thumbs, but I suppose skipping the winter and staying till August, sounds pretty good. The Japanese see Spring as a new beginning, so that’s why they start the school year then. The Cherry Blossoms are also expected to bloom the day after I arrive, so this is something I am super looking forward to! I’ve already had my backpack prepared since like January and it is crammed filled with a ton of stuff ranging from electronics, guide books and some comical Japanese dictionaries that my friends gave me. Of course, they are also excited for me and for me to get them sweet souvenirs. My best friend wants a Yakult Swallows, Japanese equivalent of the Mets, Baseball Cap, his girlfriend wants a stylish tea cup and my other friend, the Disney maniac wants this female Disney teddy bear, they only sell in Asia, so plenty of quests to complete, but I enjoy souvenir shopping for myself and others.

My excitement for my trip is literally through the roof as I often start daydreaming about Japan and can’t help but grin with joy. I went to Tokyo during the summer of 2014 as part of the Cool Japan program through New Paltz, which itself was an amazing and fun trip, something that I recommend to everyone interested! I really do have to give a shoutout to Christian Wilwohl because even the hotel, that they arranged for us was really great, everyone go their own room, the hotel staff all spoke fluent English, Breakfast was included and was delicious, and the hotel was a five minute at best walk to the college and the amazing surrounding area. I swore I would return to Japan after such an amazing time and can now legitimately possess a Meiji University Pennant. Tokyo is a very unique city, the trains run like clockwork, everything is bright or shiny, and the city is unbelievably clean, literally cleaner than even the small town I live in. Though I can not fluently speak Japanese, let alone read it, everything is usually in English and I’m pretty good at body language. Also, food is incredibly cheap and delicious, so I will be enjoying my meals. I also want to go to as many shrines and temples as possible as well as participate in some festivals, I joined in one at a Buddhist temple last time and I had a blast, despite being a foreigner, I was welcomed by the Japanese people and it was an amazing experience. Despite popular belief, you will not see Giant Monsters attacking Tokyo, though I will be there for the release of the new Japanese Godzilla movie, who cares if I can’t really understand Japanese, its going to be an awesome giant monster movie and movie tickets seem to be pretty cheap.

I’ve pretty much bought everything I need for my trip and then some, I mean I’m going to be living there for over four months, so I want to have a comfortable stay. I got to start packing my suitcase, which is the largest size allowed by my Airline, wrote out my list and now I have to cram in as much stuff as possible. The dorm I’m staying at seems to be nice, I get my own room, which is great as I am an only child and like the privacy that entails, the dorm is close to the train station, so that’s a plus, it has a good amount of amenities including darts, a kitchen and a TV, because how can I enjoy Japan if I can’t watch its “distinct” programming, where else in the world will I see commercials involving Tommy Lee Jones, a talking dog and a random Japanese family fighting asteroids to advertise a bank or something?!, and there’s a 7-11 down the street, which in Japan has really good food and I have been told is actually the best bank for Americans to use, now that is a high standard! The area is called Katsushika and though its relatively quiet, Tokyo Disney isn’t too far away, so I definitely know what is in my near future. Odaiba is also nearby, the location of a site for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, formally the world’s tallest Ferris wheel and a 60 foot tall Giant Robot statue, which Japan promises they will have walking by 2019, just in time for the most awesome Olympic opening in recent memory. Of course, I intend to go all over the city, there’s 23 special wards, three major neighboring regions and a mountain, all crammed under the umbrella term of the Greater Tokyo Metropolitan area, so I’ll be plenty busy on adventures. And of course, I want to travel around the major areas of Japan like Kyoto, Osaka, Nagano and maybe Aizu, I have got to see a Japanese Castle!!!! But aside from the culture and heritage, there’s only one way to travel Japan and that’s by Shinkansen (Bullet Train)! I really wanted to travel on one the first time, but I didn’t have the chance, so I’m going to grab it this time, and as each bullet train is designed specially for their route, it means that they each offer their own unique experience.

I’m really thankful to my parents for supporting me on this journey, they told me that I am young with no commitments to weigh me down, and as I have always wanted to do this, I have to grab the opportunity, I know as they said, if I don’t take this adventure, I would regret it! It’s definitely going to an experience, just studying there and I know that after living abroad, I will definitely grow as a person. As the Vapors song goes, “I’m a stranger in a strange land”, but I know how to use chopsticks, navigate the Tokyo rail system and how to stay cool under pressure, so I’m as ready as I can be! Fortunately, I won’t be going alone, I will be accompanied by the wonderful, Miss Danielle White, who is as excited as I am about the adventure we are to undertake, so let’s do this! GET READY JAPAN CAUSE I’M COMING BACK AND THIS TIME, I’VE GOT PLENTY OF TIME TO REALLY SEE THE COUNTRY!!!

Aaron is a History Major with the desire to see the world and learn as much as possible about it. He cannot wait to write about his adventures in Japan, making new friends, living in Tokyo and exploring both new & old Japan. This is Aaron’s second Study Abroad program to Japan through SUNY New Paltz!

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