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.

So. 

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.

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I have an Asian nightmare

I had a horrible nightmare the other night:

Oh wait. It doesn’t stop there. It gets better.

My sleepy subconscious was in legitimate agony. Yeesh. Dreams are weird.

Speaking of dreams, I forgot to mention here what is old news to my friends: one of my dreams is, indeed, coming true!

At the beginning of this semester, I applied for one of Northeastern’s Dialogue of Civilizations programs. These programs, exclusive to NU, are kind of like a summer study abroad, except with a much greater focus on cultural immersion and experience rather than just taking courses in a different country. For example, there are Dialogues where kids learn about healthcare in Australia, micro-financing in Cuba, or photography in Italy.

I applied for the Language Immersion Dialogue to Japan.

It was a bit of a long shot, actually. I’m just a freshman. My Japanese, when I applied, was… rusty. So when I went to interview for the program, I kind of freaked out:

But… I guess I did okay! Because, last month, I got an e-mail…

I was accepted! Oh my goodness gracious, I was accepted. I couldn’t believe it!

Especially because I’m the only freshman going on the trip. Everybody else is an upperclassman. I just… can’t… I don’t…

So this summer, from May 11th to June 19th, one of my longtime dreams is finally coming true. I’m going to Japan! 日本に行く!I’m still in shock, really. The best part is that my scholarship pays the tuition costs– so I’ll only have to pay about $700 instead of $10,000. Not a bad deal, for sure.

And this time, I’ll remember my camera!