10 DAYS UNTIL I GO TO JAPAN! (But who’s counting?)

My freshman year is over.

It was chaotic. It was stressful. It was a crazy new experience. I got to go to so many places, learn so many things, and meet all sorts of awesome people. Moving out and saying goodbye to the friends I had made this year was a bittersweet experience. Sure, we’d be back in a couple of months– but our freshman year is a time we’ll never get back.


Moving on.

Northeastern’s on summer break! I’m done with classes! Which means I can finally, finally allow one reality to sink in that I’ve been suppressing the entire semester:

To demonstrate just how long I’ve been waiting for this day to come, let’s tell a brief, disjointed story:

I’ve wanted to go to Japan, then, for a very long time. But it had always seemed like a distant dream. One of those things you obtain in ten years or so, after you have a stable job, save up some money, and are able to take off a week or two for vacation. But then, in my junior year of high school, two friends of mine achieved the dream. 

They had won a scholarship through Youth for Understanding, an organization that sets up study abroad programs for high school students. For six weeks, they would go abroad and live with a host family for six weeks. And they were going. To Japan. I was pretty jealous. I was sufficiently inspired to apply for the same program the year after. Somehow I managed to win one of five full-tuition Mazda/Nationwide Community Scholarships.

But as we all know, last summer, Japan went through the horrible tragedy of the earthquake and tsunami and the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear disaster. Therefore, I was shipped off to Germany instead.

I wouldn’t trade my experience in Germany for anything. Germany is das schönste Land an der Welt, and I was lucky enough to get the greatest host family in the world. But still, in the back of my mind, I wanted to go to Japan. The other nine kids on the same scholarship felt the same way, as I discovered when we visited the Mazda Europe Research and Development headquarters.  Here, in addition to showing us how concept cars are designed (it’s pretty awesome) they also taught us a little bit about Japanese culture.

That day, Mazda gave us a couple souvenirs. There was a Mazda magnet. A little booklet telling us about the history of the company. And…

A daruma, for those who don’t know, is this sort of symbolic Japanese traditional doll seen as a symbol of good luck and hard work. Upon receiving a daruma, you paint in one eye and set a goal. You then place the daruma in a place where you can see it every day, reminding you of your goal. When your goal is finally achieved, you paint in the other eye.

Guess what I wished! (Hint: I’ll get to paint in the other eye very, very soon.)

So this little daruma has been sitting on my desk all year, reminding me of my goal. I thus applied for Northeastern’s Dialogue of Civilizations program to Japan, and by some miracle, was accepted. And I am ecstatic. Amazed. Stunned. And extremely, extremely excited.

So, in 10 days, I’ll be headed off to Japan.

To live my dream.

Let’s do this.