My first semester of college was nothing like I expected it to be. It was crazy, painful, confusing, and downright overwhelming at times, but it was also very fun (and I'm only talking about the social aspect). As academics go, I took a bunch of gen ed classes, most of them lectures, and none of them were that great. It was hard to connect with new people when you're in a class of 150 students, so I didn't feel very invested in anything I took because I dreaded going to class about a subject I didn't like and sitting alone and pretending I was super cool when I wasn't. I also had to carry around these books that weighed a TON all across campus. There are a lot of things I didn't like about high school, but one thing I did like was having a locker. I had two. One shown here:
Yeah, my OCD has been evident for a LONG time.
I would carry around these heavy books using a massive messenger bag with a kodama on it. On my first day of this environmental science class I took, I happened to sit next to this girl, we'll call her Caroline (her pen name), who told me she liked my epically sized backpack. I was excited she even knew what it was from, and for one little moment, college didn't seem so overwhelming and isolating. We started talking, and then passing notes, and then passing entire pictures and stories to each other during class. I don't remember anything from the class other than the prof graduated from Michigan State, his wife just had a baby, and we talked about the eutrophication of Lake Erie. The only reason I remember THAT was because I drew a picture of dead fish floating in a lake. I'm obviously a visual learner.
Caroline and I hit it off. She was studying Creative Writing and East Asian Studies (which is what I ended up getting my degree in... go figure). One time she convinced me to skip my class and hang out with her at the library and she let me read a story she was working on. In a way, reading this story motivated me to peruse writing myself. Writing had always been something I did in the background, but after meeting someone who was studying it themselves, it made the idea seem more concrete instead of some notion floating around in my head. My sophomore year I decided to declare a major and I never looked back (well... except once or twice when I would have panic attacks about wtf I could do with a creating writing degree).
She also convinced me to take Japanese with her since we needed to figure out a class we could take together. I had an interest in Japan and eastern cultures before, but I had no reason to take classes about it. It turned out to be a lot of fun. I was suddenly a part of a community that saw each other every day and not only did we learn, but we also created all kinds of crazy, ridiculous drama with a bunch of dorky people. Because of that class, one of my long-term goals is to visit Japan. Right now I couldn't do it because of my anxiety, but every step I take in the positive direction I think, "If I work hard at this, I can visit Japan and shop in Shibuya and visit the Ghibli museum and a Buddhist shrine and sit in a hot spring and eat lots and lots of food!" Yeah, I'm a dork, too.
During my last year of college, Caroline went to Japan to study abroad for a year. She enjoyed it so much that she went back after a few months of returning to America to make it her permanent home. Right now she's out there working as an English language teacher/tutor. We haven't been as close since she moved, but I was really thankful to have met her when I had. Seeing her follow her dreams and be successful has motivated me to take the next steps to accomplish what I've wanted out of life. She's kind of my hero.
So... Why am I bringing this up? Caroline started a blog last year: Spooning with a Schoolboy. It talks about her current and past exploits in Japan and it's SUPER entertaining. If you have any interest in Japan, or just want to follow the life of a quirky twenty-something American living abroad, check it out!
Caroline in Japan! Hooray!
Not only does she talk about her awesome day-to-day experiences of living and working in Japan, but she also provides advice for those of us interested in spending some time in the country and how to survive doing so (aptly named Caroline's Seikatsu Advice). There are a few other mini-series: "From Inside the Train" explores Caroline's strange love for all things train-related, and "Five Reasons Why Saitama Doesn't Suck", defends the place where she lives from its reputation of being totally lame. She also posts updates on her travels around the country with all kind of delicious pictures to gawk at.
OR you could read her blog just to see all the awesome things she buys. I'm seriously jealous of the styles of clothing available in Japan and her close proximity to obtaining them.
OMG I WANT HER STOCKINGS.
I promise you, she didn't ask me to write this. I also promise you will totally love her blog. If you don't...there is something wrong with you. She writes much more coherently than I do :D
VISIT IT HERE:
- Spooning with a Schoolboy? That sounds awkward.