When Everyone Else Goes Home

This blog entry was submitted by Colorna Piquet, who studied abroad in Beppu, Oita, Japan.

“Not going to lie, I’ve already talked about this at length, but what’s one more time.

Studying Abroad is an amazing experience that honestly more people should take advantage of! For many people, college is the best time in your life to do so as well. Before college, many people are too preoccupied with high school and the like and after college, a lot of people don’t have the opportunity to travel either between getting a job, or graduate school, or whatever else. Not that you can’t make the time, but taking a semester or so of your college career to go overseas (or anywhere really) is truly opportune. However, nobody tells you how different it can be to spend half of college in another country- especially when your other exchange friends go home.

Unlike most study abroad programs that last for a semester, or even a year, the study abroad program I am in requires two years abroad- specifically two years at your home university (St.Edward’s University in Austin, Texas, U.S.A) and two years at a host university (Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University in Beppu, Oita, Japan.) This means that all my fellow study abroad-ers and stateside friends are gearing up to go home, spend the holidays with family and friends, and engage in general holiday goodness. I, on the other hand, am in the middle of my first semester (out of 4) in Japan and the prospect of even returning home for a little bit looms long and far into the future. It’s not all bad though, if I can’t return home I’ll just have to bring home here; I’ll call it a cultural exchange.

The nice thing about not being able to go home is that it saves me money. I’m not kidding! Hear me out, rather than spending the time and money to find myself a plane ticket and get all the way back to the states I can chill and rest here in the comfort of my Japanese dorm. Additionally, with the money I save, I can use it to aid in my endeavor to bring an American Christmas to Japan! We are talking peak American, almost as great as my Thanksgiving dinner (and yes, it was great.) From educating my international friends on the topics of Hallmark movies, Christmas claymations, and the god given gift that is eggnog, I can also use the time to explore where I live!

Despite being here for four or so months, I really am here for school and that takes up the majority of my time- as it should. During the winter break, however, I actually have the opportunity to explore and travel my very own city. This works with the saving money idea as well. Instead of traveling to a tourist area of Japan, (which I very well could do and in no way am I telling anyone not to) I can learn more about my own home- especially since I’ll be here for the next year and a half.

Of course, I wish I could go home and spend the holidays with my family, but I am extremely grateful to even be in Japan this long, never mind four years. As homesick as I might be at times, studying abroad is one of the best decisions I have made for myself and I wouldn’t change that for the world. Even if I have to make my own eggnog.”

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