The wait before the storm (or the typhoon)

04 Dec 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.

The last few weeks kept me busy with filling out all sorts of forms, documents, and letters. Now, phase two has started: the waiting. I thought sending all my documents would give me a relief of some sort, but on the contrary, my nerves are on fire. The first contact with my university in Japan was enough to show me that this is really happening. I will really be living in Japan in a few months. Exciting, right? But also, very scary if I think about it now.

Let’s look at the list of things that contribute to my fear: For starters, I don’t speak or read Japanese. Unlike other students that may want to go to Japan, I have not been obsessed with the country for long – my excitement started only eight months ago so here I am, going to a foreign country without speaking one word.

‘And slowly I am realising that cold feet really are a thing.’

You can imagine the worries that come from this: how will I move through Japan? How will I ask people for the way? How will I read the ingredients on the back of the food box? Crucial questions and no answers. I’m still thinking about taking that Japanese In’to Language course at Radboud, but maybe I should focus my financial energy on other things.

Problem number two: while preparing for my journey to East Asia and also while being there, I somehow have to make sure that I also pass university courses and finally get my Bachelor’s diploma. At the moment my thesis has me in full grip, but I’m guessing I’ll make it out alive. And then there’s the courses that I will take at my Japanese university. I sometimes forget that I am actually going abroad to study and not just to see a new part of the world. Having fun while being abroad is one thing, being focused on studies all the while is another.

Problem number three: my comfort zone. While one of the reasons for me to choose Japan was that I have become too comfortable in my study life, I still like my comfort. (A lot.) I love my little student room, the cosiness of the Nijmegen city and being able to see my family every other weekend. All these little conveniences will be gone during my stay abroad. And slowly I am realising that cold feet really are a thing.

All of that won’t stop me from going, of course. The rest of me is still totally hyped about experiencing this new adventure. But knowing your worries and working on them is still an important (though less fun) part of the journey.

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