Gave my heart (and sanity) to Japan

19 Nov 2019

Psychology student Saira Wahid is preparing for 4 months in Japan. She is going to study there, far away from Nijmegen and the comfortable Radboud life she has created for herself. For Vox, she blogs about the time leading up to studying in Japan, and eventually about her time there.

Studying abroad. I hadn’t thought about doing it before my studies at Radboud because technically, I am already studying abroad. Hey guys! I’m Saira, a German psychology student in the (fingers crossed) last year of her bachelor. Soon I will be travelling over the ocean and to Japan to spend my last semester there. In the following months, I want to take you along on my journey, both pre- and post-departure.

Going abroad takes commitment. You can’t start thinking about going a few months before departure – it’s a little bit more nerve-racking than that. This is when you have to decide: 1 year in advance! I found that shocking. My whole personality changes in less than a month, from my daily routines to my views on life, and here I had to decide on something that is a year away?

‘I needed life to hit me in the face again with an entirely new environment’

But okay, I sat down and looked at the options. The only thing I knew about my destination: it had to be faaaar far away, out of my comfort zone. I had become quite a creature of habit during my time at Radboud: I needed life to hit me in the face again with an entirely new environment. After becoming so comfortable in Nijmegen, I had forgotten what it’s like to be spontaneous and chaotic, and I’d started to long for that kind of life again. Plus, I was eager to get to know an unfamiliar culture – and so I ended up choosing Japan. Excited, I sent my motivation letter and started getting hyped. Life in Japan for 4 months, woohoo!

Cut to November. The summer holidays are over, exam panic has me stressed out again and the realisation that I’m going abroad is slowly hitting me. The first contact between me and my foreign university has started: they have asked me to send in some documents. Some. These turn out to be 15 documents in which I am asked to unfold my entire personal life, from a letter from my doctor to recommendations and letters about my hobbies and aspirations in life. Considering the fact that I am trying to pass exams in the meantime, it is enough to drive me crazy.

And so I learned my lesson: every great thing requires some hard work as well. In other words: going abroad is not going to be such a walk in the park as expected. But, I still cannot wait to come back from Japan with this irresistible glow that all these abroad-people share that says: ‘I just went to the best place on earth.’ I’ll just have to clear all the hurdles that’ll stand in my way before that.

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