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#study abroad

Welcome to my travel blog!

My name is Katie and I’m a first year college student majoring in Psychology and Anthropology. I have always been very passionate about traveling and feel very fortunate to have received many opportunities to travel. My goal is to continue to travel throughout my life because I find it to be a very enriching experience. Learning about different cultures, seeing beautiful views, and eating amazing foods can change your perspective on so many different aspects of life and I feel like I’ve become a more well-rounded person as a result.

Here on my blog, I’m going to post different pictures and stories from my travels both domestically in the United States and abroad, as well as share travel tips that I’ve acquired over time. I’ve also learned a lot about traveling on a budget through my dad, who is the genius behind all of the amazing family vacations we’ve gone on — all while staying on a tight budget.

I’m so excited to be starting this! I hope everyone has a wonderful day! xoxo

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{02.01.20}

i never thought that at some point in my life, i would have traveled to where the harry potter films were made. seeing the hogwarts express, hagrid’s hut, and even the river scene during the triwizard tournament felt like a dream. 

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I feel like it has been both an eternity and, like, three seconds since I arrived in Japan to settle down for a whole year. A lot has happened, a lot has been learned, and I thought that it would be great to share my thoughts on this first half of the year in this beautiful country, honestly and without trying to edulcorate anything. 

First, Nagoya is a very, very nice place to live in. I was scared of being overwhelmed by such a big city - 4th biggest in the country, it is still bigger than Paris - and, well, turns out it’s one of the best part of my experience. I just genuinely like this city : it is surprisingly peaceful where I live, and during my late-night walks I enjoy this kind of nocturnal stillness in the residencial areas, with the lighting enhancing the japanese architecture that I’ve come to love so much. Also, if you prefer to be more active, there are still dozens of places which never seem to sleep - Sakae among them, truly the heart of the living life in Nagoya. All in all, I’m pretty happy to be living where I am, also because Nagoya is between Tokyo and Kyoto, and kind of in the middle of Japan, which allows to travel anywhere without it being too expensive - it is still very expensive, let’s be real. 


Nagoya University is a nice campus. It is very large, and offers plenty of services to fill the day ; I especially love the library, and there is a coffee shop where you can get free coffee/tea every two hours if you register on an app - it’s called Shiru Cafe, 100% real, tested and approved. 


However, I have been very disappointed with the classes offered. All in all, I think I’m also at fault here : my expectations were great and I had heard the Japanese education system being praised for its difficulty so many times that I foolishly thought I would enjoy myself. Well… In Nagoya and in most of the universities I heard of, classes for foreign students are created especially for them, and neither my friends in other schools nor me have found them particularly entertaining or meaningful. There is also another problem : in Japan, if you do not want to work in a scientific field, your skills at the end of uni are barely important. It’s the university you went to and the clubs you took part in which matter. That’s because basically, in Japanese companies, you always start at the bottom and climb through hierarchy as the years go by ; because companies often hire employees for life, they tend to change their allocated department every 5 years or so. Which means that even if you are specialized in Human Resources, you might as well end up in the Marketing department. Which means that your skills in one field are not particularly relevant to your employer. I don’t know how much of an impact it had, but my management classes at least were pretty hard to focus on, they were terribly boring. I also struggle with by-heart learning and… yeah, guess what ? It’s the favored method of learning in Japan. So, yeah, academically, I do not feel very fulfilled. 


The country is amazingly beautiful. Japan in autumn is a sight to see and, please, if you come then, do not simply stop at Tokyo and Kyoto ; the Japanese countryside in autumn has some of the most beautiful colours I have ever seen for that season. I fell in love with the places I went to during that time. Try and see if there are places slightly outside of the most famous one, places which could interest you and where you could see what Japan’s Nature has to offer : trust me, that is a lot.  
Also, be careful, autumn in Japan arrives a lot later than in France for example. Nagoya did not start showing any sign of a red leaf until late November ; in the countryside, it started mid-November but the most beautiful colors are definitely not there before early December. Please note that it varies from north to south ; Nikko has colours as soon as October for example. 


Another thing I did not expect : I have always seen myself as a very independent, adventurous person and it came as quite a shock when I realized just how much I missed my best friend. We have a very unique relationship, very close, and I just miss her whith my whole entire soul every single day. I think, in a way, this has dampened my enthousiasm for the whole trip, because every activity and every project is accompanied by “if only we could do this together” and “she would love this” etc. Of course, there are ways, but we’ve lived in a colocation for years now and I just wasn’t prepared for the impact it would have on me. 


Being alone however taught me a lot of things, and helped me grow a lot ; as well as to face myself and the things I was running from. It allowed me to take some time to gather my thoughts and to progress in a variety of fields, to experiment and to fail without fearing it would lead to conflict with anyone. Also, it has helped me have a clearer view on my relationships and it feels really good. 


All in all, I am very grateful for this wonderful opportunity. I think travelling abroad is an amazing experience and I wish it to anyone who desires to try someday. Do it. Try, see, you will always learn. 

I am currently hesitating to go back to France ; not because I do not appreciate this great experience, but because I am not sure it will help me at all with my studies, nor am I sure if I can bear one more semester of classes - I am the type of person who simply can’t work when not interested. Also, my best friend’s absence is becoming more and more of a hindrance to my enjoying of Japan. 

At first, I was ashamed. How could I try and go back when I was given such an amazing gift ? How could I feel this way when I have been insisting that it’s all I’ve ever wanted ? I did a lot of thinking, though, and I think that it’s important for people to know that, despite everything, being on the other side of the world for one whole year, all alone, especially when you’re an introvert, can be quite taxing. I would still recommend it, because you learn and see and experience so much, but I also think that it’s important to recognize if something is bothering you/hurting you and if you have a way to stop it. 


So, yeah, here are my thoughts on my first 6 months ! Frankly, all in all, it was really amazing, and I do not regret one thing. I hope it will be at least a bit interesting for you ! 

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