I consider myself an outgoing person, but I was fully prepared to isolate myself for this trip. My worst fear was that no one would laugh at my jokes. If that were the case, I would not be able to have a good relationship with anyone. On a more serious note, I was anxious about this trip.   

What if I regretted going to Japan, and it was the worst choice I have ever made?  

Other than this sinking thought of being alone in Japan, I was extremely excited about going to Japan and despite feeling prepared, I was going into this trip blindly.   

Despite this, I had to remember my “why.” Why did I sign up in the first place?  

Every graduate I have spoken to has said the same thing: “I regret not studying abroad.” This made me think back to why I moved four hours away from my hometown to go to college in San Marcos.   

I was so nervous and afraid to leave the place where I lived my entire life. But I knew that I needed to be more comfortable with taking risks, especially if I knew it would benefit me eventually.   

If I stayed in my hometown, I would miss every single opportunity and experience that Texas State has given me.  

I would not have met the amazing people and friends I have now. I would say no to certain job offers or life-changing opportunities for fear of being out of my comfort zone.   

After taking that first big step, the rest of the journey came naturally. Even if there was a rough start, everything worked out.  

In fear of missing this amazing opportunity because of unrealistic anxieties, I put down my first deposit.  

I knew deep down that the SJMC Japan 2023 Team would lead the trip of a lifetime.  

I learned so much from this trip — different photo techniques, various kinds of writing and how to put shoes back on in record time. I have also learned that it is OK to get lost because, luckily, Japan has Uber, too.   

Some of my biggest professional takeaways from this trip are being able to work under pressure and on daily deadlines, and being more creative with taking photos. 

Traveling to Japan has made me realize that I am more independent and capable than I think I am. In places where I would usually feel anxious or overwhelmed, I felt perfectly fine. I am positive that it is because of the overwhelming support from the SJMC Japan Team. I really felt like I could do and be anything with how much we uplifted each other. 

There was not a single dull moment during my time in Japan. 

I do not think I will ever forget the first full day I had in Japan. I accidentally woke up extremely early, and instead of just going back up to my hotel room to sleep, Oli, Sofia and I decided to check out the coffee shop down the street from our hotel. This turned out to be a trend throughout the duration of the time spent in Tokyo.  

That day we explored the Tsukiji Outer Market, the Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden, Shibuya and my personal favorite, Harajuku.  

Takeshita Street and Meiji Jinju Shrine have a special place in my heart.   

The moment I was able to explore these places was when I realized that I was really in Japan. It was all reality and not a dream.  

I do not think I could ever experience the same feeling of true bliss that I felt when I walked through the torii gates at Meiji Jinju. I remember just looking up through the tall trees and being in a state of disbelief and awe.   

Takeshita Street introduced one of my favorite pastimes while walking the streets of Japan. Scavenging for little stores or street corners that had gashapon, toy capsule vending machines.  

I loved our time in Tokyo, but I wish I had more time to explore Kyoto.   

During the time spent in Kyoto, some of my highlights included the thrifting spot called 2nd Street, the Kyomizu-dera Temple and the Fushimi Inari Shrine.   

Every single person that attended this journey has somehow impacted my life. I have never learned so much about a group of people in such a little time.  

The content I created on this trip is going straight to my resume and personal portfolio. I am extremely proud of myself and the things I have produced. I feel more confident about my personal work ethic and the skills I know I have to offer. 

I have also made connections of a lifetime with my peers and professors from this trip. I would love to have the chance to work with these people again.  

I hope that my future career includes a work trip abroad to Japan. If the future calls for it, I would love to have the opportunity to live there. I just can’t wait to get back to Japan.

The 10 days spent in Japan felt like a spur-of-the-moment experience and passed with what felt like a blink of an eye. If I could relive it all again, I really would.

All I can do now is take what I learned and grow alongside the friends I’ve made.

Till next time, Japan.

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