Thank You, Japan

Well, my stay in this country has ended.

I have to say that my life in Japan has been absolutely amazing. Though it definitely was not easy at first, I found that some of the most difficult things to do in life are the things that are worth doing. Being as introverted as I am, and having never even left my home state before, it was a big jump to travel across the world all on my own. Yet, I stepped over 5,000 miles outside my comfort zone to live in a country that — in almost every way — is completely opposite from mine.

For three and a half months.

“I came to Japan to study and learn more about the language, but I inevitably learned more about myself.”

If I were to describe my stay here, it would be similar to my experience with a certain soft drink I encountered called Calpis. The bottled beverage was given to me the first day I arrived.

When I tasted it, the flavor was not something I was accustomed to and I honestly thought it was disgusting, therefore I rejected it. However, since it was given to me, I couldn’t just throw it away, so I kept it. As the days went by, I forced myself to try a little more of it every day. Eventually the flavor grew on me and I was able to finish the drink without forcing myself — rather, I wanted to.

This experience is almost exactly how I responded upon arriving in Tokyo. At first, I was resistant to fully integrating myself to the new world I was living in. But since the opportunity was given to me and I worked so hard to get here, I couldn’t just throw my opportunity away. So as the days went by, I forced myself to step even further out my comfort zone and participate in school and club events — something I don’t normally do.

I don’t know when it happened, but after a short while, I no longer had to force myself to do anything, because I wanted to explore many things.There is so much I didn’t expect to happen while staying here.

I didn’t expect to make as many connections with people as I did.

I didn’t expect to have the guts to travel alone on multiple occasions without GPS to guide me.

I didn’t expect to be recognized strictly as an American rather than a Black American.

And I didn’t expect to encounter, yet overcome, so many challenges.

I came to Japan to study and learn more about the language, but I inevitably learned more about myself.

I mentioned on my first post that I felt like I was thrown into the ocean and expected to fend for myself with no tools to survive, but I found that I had to make the tools to survive. Looking back on my experience, I feel like I swam rather than sank.

Of course, I didn’t survive exclusively on my own. I have to thank friends and family for supporting me, the Gilman Scholarship for funding me and, of course, the Lord for guiding me.

My program is over, and although it is finished, I believe that this experience was just the beginning for me.


Dalayah Baker is a third-year transfer student majoring in Japanese. She is studying abroad spring semester in Tokyo, Japan.

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