August 16, 2018, Blog by Rebecca Angelsey, Program: Honors Japan: Construction of Japan Identity- A Comparative Look at National Narrative in Japan and U.S.
I am so excited to be able to participate in a study abroad program while attending UWB! I never thought this experience would be a possibility for me, so it is really a surreal experience. To make everything even more magical, my boyfriend, Dan, has been accepted to the program as well, so we will be able to share this amazing experience together!
I chose this program for a few reasons. First, it was the most practical. It fit into my major, which is Society, Ethics, and Human Behavior. It also was very well timed to allow me to graduate at the end of fall quarter. But the second and more important reason that I chose this program was that I have always had an enduring fascination with Japanese culture.
When I was young my parents volunteered us to be a host home for Japanese homestay international students. For a few weeks every summer we would have a young person from Japan come and stay with us. We would have so much fun learning from them, but also teaching them about our small corner of the world in Western Washington (Hoquiam, specifically). Once we even had a slumber party at our house full of teenage Japanese girls! I had so much fun that when I was 13 my parents sent me to Osaka to participate in a homestay of my own.
It was the first time I had ever been on a plane or traveled without my parents. I was excited and terrified at the same time. I was in Osaka for 10 days and I have never forgotten that experience. My host family was absolutely wonderful and welcoming to me. They had two daughters my age and we went out and had an absolute blast in the way only young girls can. The day before I left, my host family gave me a Tiffany necklace, so I would always remember my time in Japan. I promised that someday I would return.
In four days, I will be fulfilling that promise. It has been over 18 years since I was last in Japan, and I still wear that Tiffany necklace regularly. Every time I put it on, I am filled with memories of learning, laughter, and a friendship that stretched across two cultures to show me how the world outside of my little town could be.
An odd thing happened to me today… I was moving some old boxes into a storage unit we just rented, and I came across some old photos of my host family and me from that trip. Isn’t it strange that they should show up just before I made my second trip to Japan? Maybe the universe is trying to tell me something…
For now, Dan and I are just filled with the excitement and flurry of long-term travel. There is so much to do and take care of! Our cats will be staying with family, so we have been making arrangements to make sure that they will be comfortable somewhere else. Otherwise we are dealing with all the other adventures in preparation: bank notices, packing, planning activities, preparing for coursework, and a million other things I am probably going to forget until we land in Tokyo. And now I should probably get back to it!