Musings on my year abroad so far

It’s the middle of June and I’m leaving Japan around the end of August. That means I have just over two months left in Kyoto. Inevitably thoughts are turning to the brevity of the remainder of our stay. I can’t believe just how quickly it’s flying by, and soon I’ll be back in Southampton, starting work on my dissertation. But, hang on a second, I don’t want to be wishing my time away just yet! I’m definitely going to make the most of these last two months.

Sunset over Kyoto, from the summit of Daimonjiyama.

Sunset over Kyoto, from the summit of Daimonjiyama.

The past eight and half months have been eye opening and better than I could ever have imagined. I’ve learnt how to live in a new country with a fascinating culture (without knowing the language), I’ve been fortunate enough to see an awful lot of Japan, with more time to explore other places before my return to the UK, and what’s more, I’ve been able to share this experience with some truly fantastic people.

I really do feel at home here in Kyoto. It’s a wonderful city, brimming with tucked away temples, quirky cafés and picturesque streets. To live in such a beautiful city really is a gift. I’ve certainly adapted to life here. Things that would have baffled me when I first arrived are now the unquestionable norm. Bowing to thank people for letting me past whilst on my bicycle is now customary. I’ve mastered cycling with an umbrella, ready for the rainy season. Hitting karaoke at the weekend is now one of my favourite pastimes. And I now barely notice the blaring incessant jingles on repeat in the 100 Yen store. That’s not to say that the way things are here don’t sometimes seem odd to me – visiting a maid café in Tokyo at the weekend was definitely a uniquely Japanese experience!

My arrangement made at an Ikebana workshop.

My arrangement made at an Ikebana workshop. So many cultural opportunities to take advantage of here!

I’ve adjusted to life in Kyoto so much that I’m not sure how I’ll react to returning to the UK. When the excitement of being reunited with my friends and family disapparates, will I be left with the post-travelling blues? That said, finishing my degree and doing my dissertation isn’t really something comparable with living in Japan for a year. It’s another very different stage in my life. I’m looking forward to studying at Southampton again, the course is fantastic and it’ll be great to get back into the swing of university life there. I’ll also definitely be joining the Japanese Society when I’m back!

My experience in Kyoto has definitely given me a new outlook. I think the most important thing which I have gained out of this experience so far is learning the importance of taking risks and pushing yourself out of your comfort zone. Coming to Japan was pretty much a snap decision as I felt it was an opportunity too good to turn down. Luckily for me, it worked out better than I ever could have imagined. I’ve definitely gained a far more international outlook, and I can’t wait to see more of the world and hopefully live abroad again in the future.

Takaragaike lake, Kyoto.

Takaragaike lake, Kyoto.

Now it’s time to plan the rest of my time here and to make the most of it!

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