A wave of anticipation and excitement ripples through students in Texas State’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication study abroad program as the departure date to Japan looms on the horizon.

Students in pre-travel fervor are taking two distinct approaches. One group is meticulously crafting itineraries, scrambling to learn as many Japanese words and phrases as possible, creating a packing checklist for every scenario and researching destinations on the travel itinerary to get a head start on their assignments. These intrepid souls stand at the precipice of adventure and cultural immersion.

On the other hand, a contingent of students embrace a more laissez-faire attitude. Open to serendipitous twists and turns that fate may weave into their journeys, these students are more akin to explorers venturing into uncharted territory, eager to lose themselves in the vibrant tapestry of Japanese culture. 

Regardless of planning styles, confidence seems to be a trend among students. Click here to meet the SJMC Japan students on the introductions page on this website!

A few of them shared what they are doing to adequately prepare for their upcoming journey. 

Tobi Jaiyeoba, an international studies major, is leveraging TikTok videos and Instagram reels for inspiration, ideas and niche locations that cater to her interests. 

A digital media innovation major, Colton Winters takes a similar strategy by binging YouTube videos on Japanese communication practices and the best neighborhoods for fashion, while also utilizing Google Maps to explore the area surrounding the hotel. 

For some students, last-minute errands, deliveries and packing are top of mind.

“The day we fly out snuck up on me super quickly!” says Kaylie Kruk, an electronic media major. With six different checklists and a to-do list in her notes app, she has a semblance of control. She’s resorted to overnight Amazon deliveries and last-minute Target runs to ensure she’s not left scrambling at the airport. Despite the stress, Kruk’s underlying excitement shines through as she anticipates capturing the alluring energy of Japanese street culture. 

Other students, however, are taking a different approach as departure day on Monday is right around the corner.

“There’s a certain magic in getting lost in a new place,” says Abigail Tuttle, an advertising major, who admits she’s “a bit of a type B personality.” She’s open to those unexpected moments that could become the heart of one of her feature stories. While she acknowledges the importance of structure, she thrives on spontaneity. However, her personality type doesn’t mean a lack of preparation. Tuttle is focused on making an A in her courses and gaining a deeper understanding of cultural norms through CulturaGo courses provided by Asia Institute, which provided logistical support for this program.

A few shared concerns among students emerge such as the dread of a 20-hour travel day, the worry of juggling assignments with jet lag, and the unknown terrain of navigating a new country. Despite these worries, a palpable buzz of anticipation prevails. 

The prospect of a cultural deep-dive has them brimming with excitement. Culinary adventures and the chance to savor the authentic flavors of sushi and steaming bowls of ramen excite their taste buds. Visions of awe-inspiring pagodas and intricate temples appear in their dreams. The serenity of a prepared tea ceremony promises a moment of tranquil reflection.

But above all, it’s the insatiable thirst for knowledge and the desire to truly understand another culture that unites these soon-to-be explorers. 

Ahead of departure, SJMC Japan Academic Program Director Gilbert D. Martinez gifted each student a daruma doll. These charming, round figures symbolize perseverance and resilience. Traditionally, one eye of the daruma doll is painted upon setting a goal, and the other eye is filled in upon completion.

Martinez’s gesture served as a powerful symbol – the journey to Japan, with its inherent challenges of navigating a new culture and language, will require perseverance and resilience. With a willingness to learn and a healthy dose of adaptability, students hope to reach their personal goals and fill in the right eye of the daruma doll when they return to Texas. 

As the departure date inches closer, SJMC Japan students are no longer just students – they are courageous voyagers fully equipped to embark on a transformative journey.

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