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Sayonara, Japan: The Last Entry of Konnichi Wa, Fort Collins

Well, this is the end, my friends. The last time I will be saying konnichi wa from the great country of Japan. My last final was yesterday (I may not really be able to hold a conversation in Japanese, but I can sure do good on Japanese tests!), my student ID is officially voided, and I just turned in my Residence Change Form to declare I’m going back to America.

I still have about a week left in the country, but the sand in my Japan hourglass is on its last grains. While I am excited to go back to Colorado and see family, friends and familiar places once again, saying goodbye to the country I’ve called home for the past few months is going to be one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. I’ve already started saying goodbyes to some of the good friends I’ve made here, but there are many ahead, and each one is going to be harder than the last.

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I’ve had an amazing time here at Kansai Gaidai University in Hirakata, Japan. I’ve seen amazing things, met amazing people and had amazing experiences; so many that listing them here would take months. So I won’t. I’ll just say that my decision to study abroad was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made, and I wouldn’t change it for the world. My time here has been fantastic, though it was all too short. It may not have been perfect, but the frustrating and annoying times made the great ones all the more blissful.

It’s incredibly hard to even write this goodbye post, knowing my time is almost up. But I know all of the things I’ve learned and experiences I’ve had here will help make me a better person. Studying abroad is all about exploring the unknown; leaving America meant removing myself from my comfort zone, the country that I’ve known my entire life. It may have been scary and I may have had my doubts at some points, but my time in Japan has helped me grow as a person and taught me many valuable lessons about myself.

In one week, I’ll have to return to Colorado and resume my normal life, so now I’m looking ahead. French novelist Marcel Proust once wrote, “The only true voyage would be not to visit strange lands but to possess other eyes, to see the universe through the eyes of another.” I think my time here in this strange land has helped me to gain a second pair of eyes, a sort of Japan-tinted sunglasses, per se. The experience has definitely changed me as a person, and now I’m excited to see what my old life will be like and how my new pair of sunglasses will affect the way I perceive things. Looking at things this way, I’m not disappointed by the end of my time abroad, but instead excited to go back to my old home and see it through the eyes of another.

But that’s still a week away. As soon as I publish this blog, I’m about to go out for a nice dinner with some amazing friends, and then I’ll leave for the airport for a three-day trip to Okinawa, the southernmost prefecture of Japan. It’ll be three days to unwind and have some beach-y fun. The thought of saying goodbye is weighing on me now, but I’ve got a week left, and damn it, I’m going to make the most out of every last second.

I hope you’ve had fun reading my blogs every week, Fort Collins. I’ve had fun writing them. By this time next week, I’ll be on my way back home. Sayonara.

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