Photo by Lisette Calderon

As their planes departed Japan, a wave of emotions washed over SJMC Japan students headed back to the States.

The Japan portion of the SJMC Japan program had come to an end, and with it, the students brought back a treasure trove of memories, experiences and lessons that will stay with them for a lifetime. Meanwhile, they had assignments to wrap up and jet lag to contend with while they work on final presentations scheduled for June 28.

While on the way home, a few students faced unexpected challenges as some had their flights delayed. While initially frustrating, it allowed them to reflect on the incredible study abroad trip. The student revisited photos, each telling a story about the places they visited during their time in Japan.

While checking out of the hotel and waiting for the bus, students shared how packing went and what they looked forward to most when they arrived back home.

International studies senior Thalia Gomez Patino said that packing was very stressful because she was concerned she would forget something in Japan. Despite this worry, there was one thing she could not wait for when she arrived.

“One thing I miss about America is Whataburger,” Patino said.

Another student had other concerns. While advertising junior Lauren Reid said packing for her was a breeze, she was particularly worried about her suitcase.

“I hope my luggage is not over the 50 (pound) weight limit because I’m not trying to pay $200,” Reid said.

It was a bittersweet moment once the bus showed up as it marked the end of the chapter for most students. This trip was some students’ first time traveling abroad, and it taught them a lot about themselves and the strength it took to leave the comfort of their homes and step into the unknown and unexpected of another country.

While the journey for some came to an end, there are others who chose to extend their trip in Japan. Eight students chose to continue their journey in different parts of Japan, and while Lecturer Sara Shields returned home, Academic Program Director Gilbert D. Martinez traveled to Okinawa to visit family.

Of the eight students, five went to Osaka and continued to explore together. One student had her mother join her in Tokyo, another had her husband join her and yet another stayed behind to explore with a high school friend stationed at United States Fleet Activities Yokosuka.

A few extended their trip until June 19th, while others are set to return between now and June 30th.

When students first embarked on this journey, there was an air of excitement and a hint of nervousness. Students ventured into the unknown, ready to immerse in a new culture, language and way of life. From the bustling city streets of Tokyo to the serene countryside of Kyoto, every moment was a chance to learn and grow.

Stay tuned next week as we share the details of those who stayed to explore and how others have settled in while being back in the States.

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