Experiencing a different culture is life changing. It opens your eyes to many different aspects of the world around you. Traveling pulls you from reality for a while, at least for me it did. When finalizing my decision to travel to Japan, it came down to what my purpose was and what I wanted to get out of this trip. Prior to my decision, I was dealing with many obstacles that clouded my vision and purpose. I thought this would be the perfect trip to clear and restore my mind back to where it needed to be.  

This was my first flight out of the country, and I was terrified. I had to make sure I was right with my God before departing and had positive thoughts flowing through me. I did not set expectations about how things should go: I just wanted to go with the flow. Overall, the flights to Japan were manageable and luckily, I was comfortable with the people I sat with so that reassurance made all the difference.  

Being on Japanese soil was surreal. It was a breath of fresh air. I was with a group of study abroad students that wanted to discover Japan’s ins and outs just as much as I did. The excursions made to the different shrines and temples were my favorite part of it all.  

In the shrines and temples, I felt comfortable because of all of the gods that guarded the area. We would bow at the torii (gate) and time stopped for a moment. There was so much to see like when we were at Hasedera Temple in Kamakura, and I fell in love with the culture. They had an area to bless your hands before entering and once you entered, it was a whole new world. An abundance of Buddhas surrounding the area with the colorful hydrangeas creating a pathway for the people to walk through. 

From there, we came across many places like the monkey park and bamboo forest that a group of us went to on an open day. Monkey park was the cutest and highest hiking park I have ever been to. Being able to feed the monkeys was the best part, of course. The smell wasn’t the best, but what can you expect? The bamboo forest just goes to show how beautiful nature is when you let it run its course. The trees were extremely high up and made the perfect shade for walking down the path.  

Overall, this study abroad trip showed me how different life can be on the other side of the world. Being in Japan was a dream come true. This is only the beginning of my journey. I plan to travel more in the future and continue to make tracks around the world. 

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