Before this trip, I didn’t put much thought into Japan itself. I knew that we would be seeing some breathtaking sights, eating good food and trying new things, but I just left that in the hands of the professors and the guides. ‘

What I did put thought into was how nervous I was to be 6,404 miles away from home, with 15 complete strangers.  

I never would have thought it would end up being such a positive experience in my own personal growth.

I would classify myself as an overthinker, and what comes with that is great anxiety about how the trip could go poorly for me.  

One of the things that I was most terrified about was not fitting in and making friends. 

I have always been quite an extrovert. I love to talk, and I was nervous that I would need to tone myself down to make myself more “likable” as a friend on the trip. I quickly learned that many others on the trip felt the same way.

I have never clicked with a group of people as fast as I did with this group. Everyone treated each other with such kindness which is so special considering we were all just strangers. Leaving with people who now feel like lifelong friends is such a beautiful thing.

Going into this trip, I was scared that the assignments would feel like a competition. Classes I have taken in the past have always felt like a competition to me, especially because I would not call myself a good writer before this trip.  

Anytime anyone needed help on their blog or feature stories, everyone would drop anything to help each other out.

Not only did this ease my anxieties about any sort of competition, but it helped me grow as a writer as well. 

Having to write in a style that I had never written in before helped me broaden my horizons as a writer, and I feel like it is a strong skill of mine now. Having to work with strict deadlines helped me learn how to work under pressure and find a balance between work and fun.  

As this trip has come and gone, it is very evident to me that it has exceeded my initial expectations. The personal growth I developed, paired with the lifelong friendships, truly left a lasting mark on me.

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