Reflection of Myself

IMG_2005So I have returned to America, wow, it is really weird to be back after being in Japan for a third of a year. Until recently, I was used to getting out of my bed, opening up my mini-fridge to get my breakfast and walking down three flights of stairs to eat it in the dining room, now I just roll out of bed and walk to the kitchen, knowing that something will be waiting for me. I loved Japan, but it is really good to be back in my home with my parents, its peaceful here and that`s how I like it best! My mom of course, was so happy to see me and marvel at not just my slimmer physique, thank you low-fat Japanese food, but the astonishing amount of things that I miraculously got home and through customs, nothing weird, just a lot of over-stuffed bags. My mom bought me everything that I asked for, so I will probably put on some weight, though going swimming will counter that. My dad and I went to the county fair, this weekend, it was really great to spend time together and catch up, he is a very reserved personality, but I could tell he was really happy to be with me in person.

I am just so happy to see my car again, she, yes I refer to my car as a her, is one of my most precious possessions and it really gives me a sense of freedom to be able to drive wherever I want, rather than be limited by the rail lines as I was in Japan. Walking is great and healthy, but man is it nice to sit on a cushioned seat with A.C. and just go for a drive. Its so nice, to get back to the roads of America, though I have to build up my driving skills again like when I had my learners permit due to not being behind the wheel of a car in months!

There is definitely a major shift in my worldview, Japanese media is focus on Japan by itself, while American is focused on our relations and interactions with other countries. Japan is a literal island and that mindset is a staple of their culture because of most of it having limited outside influence and achieving success like Anime, they take a lot of pride in it. While its culture was focused on itself, it was really interesting to see a music culture, dominated primarily by domestic groups. I actual feel that American media is much more globally focused, I used my same news sources while I was in Japan, and really did not get much from Japan, I know that sounds odd, but it definitely gave me a very different perspective on the world.

It was amazing to live in a nation that is very focused on progression, the trains will arrive exactly at this time, the location is exactly X amount of kilometers from where you are standing, the cherry blossoms are in full bloom today only, so everyone will go to see them. there is a very precise way that Japan moves and that is how I have to move in order to be part of it. Japanese society is very homogeneous, all office workers wear grey or black suits only, students wear a specific uniform depending on the season and school, everyone moves together as one and it is fascinating to watch. As well, the Liberal Democratic Party, which has been dominant in Japan for 60 years, is the only major political party in Japan, so politics flows in an easy to predict direction here, in contrast to the various parties of influence in America.

Because of the population being over 90 percent ethnically Japanese, everyone has the same religion, Shinto-Buddhism, a unique blend of two entirely different religions. Everyone has a protection charm, talisman, statue, necklace or another object on them and in their house, they sold at almost every temple, it is an abnormality not to have a charm of sorts, even I carried a few, with one in my wallet right now with a good luck paper next to it, and gave one to each of my parents, who carry them with them as well. Despite obviously not having the same faith, I never felt out of place or stared at, when I went to any of the countless temples or shrines that I visited.

My best friend has been really happy to see me again, he was there at the airport to welcome me back, we have missed each other a lot, and plan to make up for lost time. The hug we exchanged at the airport was so strong, that I thought he snapped my spine, cause it definitely cracked. Fortunately, he has vacation this week from work, so we will be doing all kinds of fun things, video games, movies, Anime and just enjoying the rest of the summer. The look on his face, when I gave him all his souvenirs was priceless, I bought him two birthday presents, a bunch of knickknacks, good luck charm, matching t-shirts, key-chains and health charms, and even a holiday present because I found the perfect gift. Seriously, you will find the most awesome presents imaginable in Japan especially in pop culture stores! Despite the distance and the time, we caught up in mere hours and our bond only grew stronger over the time. Its as if I never left and we have been spending every minute together doing what we love and me telling him all kinds of crazy stories and memories from my adventures.

It was definitely worth going to Japan, though I left my life completely in America and will now have to catch up to everything, still it was an exciting way to finish my last semester of college. I learned so much about myself, my passions and a nation unlike any other in the world. I learned that I have the ability to live on my own in a foreign nation and prosper with great success. I will return here one day, when I do not know, but I will and intend to bring my best friend or maybe even my own children here, so that they can learn to love this nation as I have, some day in the future. Certainly international experience, will be a really great point on any resume that will give me an advantage at job interviews. Many people that I have met, told me that they wished they had done what I did and studied abroad, so I really feel that this was a great experience and I will never forget it. I have told you countless times, what I have done, but one lets go over it as a whole, I climbed mountains, I conquered castles, I rode bullet trains, I met famous warlords, I ate a variety a bizarre food, Purple Sweet Potato ice cream was good, I met all sorts of wonderful people, traveled to at less 50 different places of worship, each with their own centuries long history, watched baseball, played amazing arcade games, observed Sumo in person, celebrated festivals, took literally thousands of photos and all around never lost my enthusiasm to go out and do something, no matter the weather, the time or the place, I did it ALL!!!! As I have said so many times before, if you really want a once in a lifetime chance to go beyond any boundaries you have ever encountered, study abroad, find a nation that fascinates you, learn about it, look into study programs, there are so many offered not just at New Paltz, but through the SUNY system as a whole, go talk to an adviser, they are all really nice, trust me I have been in that office so often asking about programs, that I am on a first name basis with the secretary. If you think that studying abroad is too far, hard or expensive, ask about scholarships or grants, talk to those who went including me, seriously ask me anything and I will answer, it can be a lot easier than you would ever imagine. If you think that a semester is to long to be away, try a two week summer program and view it like an educational vacation, I did that and liked it so much that I returned to Japan! As my parents always told me, you are young with no commitments or obligations to weigh you down, go, go as far away as you can and explore this amazing world, learn, laugh, grow become the person that you always dreamed of being!

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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