I am not the sort of person to be part of clubs or even have many friends back at my home school. Before arriving at AIU, I had every intention to change that fact.
Overcoming Fear of Missing Out (FOMO)
I wanted to make a lot of new friends and join fun clubs that would really push me beyond my usual, safe, comfort zone. At the beginning, I experienced a sense of loneliness. It took time to adjust to the time zone difference between America and Japan. I went to bed only to wake up and find out that my family had already experienced a whole vacation – a whole day – without me. I found myself constantly looking at my phone, wondering if my boyfriend had texted me at all despite already knowing he was busy working. After a few days, I realized I didn’t like myself like this.
I had finally come to my dream country of Japan and I wasn’t even appreciating its full beauty.
Getting Involved: Student Clubs
Things started to change for me when I began joining clubs and school started. I ended up joining four different clubs: Tea Ceremony, Traditional Japanese Dance, Dance Virus, and Yatose. As one can presume, the only club I was in back home involved dancing. It seemed like a lot, but I was eager to learn and become a better dancer – as well as make new friends.
Yatose Dance Club
The Yatose team was the easiest to feel comfortable around. The team members were welcoming and so excited; they had an energy similar to that of a firecracker just waiting – anticipating – to go off. At the beginning, we had an okonomiyaki party to get to know one another and right before I went inside to join the team, I had a moment to myself. I told the introvert in me to try – to make more of an effort to be friendly and to show them only my good sides.
Looking back on it now, I’m glad I made that decision. One of my favorite memories with the Yatose team was when we performed at Akita University. There, we saw so many other amazing Yatose teams perform and also danced with the local team again. Afterwards, we went to karaoke and then ate ramen together. I can easily say I’m going to miss the team and I can’t believe as I write this that I only have less than two months left to dance with them.
Club Connections to Campus Friends
In the other clubs, I’m also meeting new people and making friends. Everyone is so friendly and nice. Whenever I forget a dance move or am confused because of my limited Japanese, they’re so quick to help me without a second thought. I couldn’t believe that, one day, on my way back to my dorm, I said hi and waved to so many familiar faces.
After a few months in, I don’t feel as lonely as I did at the beginning. My experience at AIU has been life-changing. It’s helped me open my heart to other people and welcome new things – new ideas, experiences, and food! I highly recommend the ramen restaurant near AIU. The shoyu ramen is delicious!