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Feature StoryKyotoTokyo

Traveling in a group

I don’t mind being alone.

Before this trip, I was a pure advocate of solo travel. Or at least traveling only with loved ones (and I’m talking about your close family or spouse). I say this only because from experience, traveling is exhausting mentally and physically. Imagine being tired, hungry and mad all at once. Now, imagine being with strangers, too. Yikes, right?

Traveling has always been an intimate thing for me. You travel to an unfamiliar place not knowing anyone, and you’re forced to depend on yourself. You test your capabilities, and I believe it to be a soulful journey that everyone should experience.

Myself at the TV Asahi Corporation Headquarters in Tokyo.

And, of course, I thought really hard about why I even considered a study abroad program. I would be with a group of people I didn’t know and have to depend on. If you asked me, that didn’t sound appealing.

I can barely put up with myself when I’m traveling. How was I going to put up with people I don’t even know?

Plus, in addition to not having my own space, I was going to have to

  • Work on someone else’s time;
  • Talk to people; and
  • Deal with other personalities.

And, there were endless other things I thought of.  Oh, and we had to share a room! No!

From reading my classmates writings, you can probably guess how wrong my assumptions were.

Maybe this wasn’t a bad idea. 

By the time my program ended, my insides were mush. We missed home a bit, but we were going to miss each other and this piece of the world we got to explore. We had overcome the discomfort of being in an unfamiliar place and took advantage of the opportunities we were given.

India and I under the Tokyo Tower.

I truly got lucky with my roommate. Shout out to India Sherman. She was the most understanding and light-hearted person and I couldn’t have asked for a better roommate. Traveling with my classmates made me open up, faster than you would if you were sitting in a classroom with them. Chances are you probably wouldn’t have even talked to them.

Even though everyone has a unique story, we are all the same, and that’s what I have continued to learn from being in this program.

I know that if it wasn’t for Samantha Dunn and Meredith Martinez, I would have never tried to understand the bus system in Kyoto. Or,  I wouldn’t have felt so much peace, drenched in rain next to Chūrei-tō pagoda if I didn’t have Melody Martinez, Tyra Williams, Michael Southall, India and Samantha. There is something powerful about sharing an experience with people. It stays with you forever.

I can say, sincerely, how grateful I am that we all found ourselves here on this trip together because only they could have made it as fulfilling as it was.

We were able to learn so much from each other. To understand each other helped us to understand those from a different culture.

My advice is to always be optimistic because you surprise yourself, just as I was pleasantly surprised on this trip.

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