High School - Japan, High School Abroad

Japan Will Be Fantastic! But First, Getting There…

by Colleen McCollum, Greenheart Travel High School Abroad Participant in Japan

Watching my college sister pack for her next year in a rented house, I wondered to myself if my own luggage would be similar.

Most definitely not.

My sister had half a U-Haul truck at her disposal. She packed a box of books, a pretty desk lamp, a pencil case to be attractively placed in the light of the desk lamp. I packed fun things like Common Sense and Portable.

It’s pretty tough, being efficient while still maintaining personal identity. Being practical and still being uniquely yourself. Ten months in Japan feels like a very long time when faced with only a suitcase, duffel bag, messenger bag, and purse. To be fair, the suitcase is giant. But still.

I extended the process as much as possible, for the sake of my own sanity. One day I would rifle through all my clothes and pick out possibilities to bring. Another day I would examine those choices and eliminate some contestants. Maybe the next day I would search my bathroom for necessities, or take a break and decorate my bags to be easily identified. Some days, just one glance at my clothes-strewn floor and I nearly gave up the effort completely.

When I wasn’t packing, I was worrying about packing. How warm should my winter clothes be? Yokohama doesn’t drop close to the bitter cold here in Colorado. But if there’s no central heating… What socks are acceptable for my school uniform? Why can’t suitcases hold more books? Will I be able to drag this monster through an airport myself?

My head was so filled with questions, mental lists, kanji I’d been cramming, that I often wished I could throw the silly suitcase out the window. Except it wouldn’t fit.

However, many shopping trips and mental debates later, my bags finally began to resemble luggage rather than disastrous piles. And as my things filled the bags bit by bit, the days also passed at a steady rate, closer and closer to my departure. I have only a handful of days now. I divide my time between my family, my friends, taking walks through the neighborhood I’ve known all my life, and preparing for the new adventures ahead. I’m nervous for the flight; I haven’t stepped aboard a plane since I was three, and really, if I don’t remember it, it doesn’t count. So for all practical purposes, it’s my first flight, and I’ll be on my own. The plane change in Minneapolis is costing my mother some sleepless nights, and I feel tired just thinking about the twelve hours I’ll be in the air to reach Japan.

It’s so soon now until my high school study abroad begins. I’m spectacularly excited. Now I just need the adrenaline to get me through the torturous airports.

About Greenheart Travel

CCI Greenheart Travel is personally invested in providing cultural immersion programs that change lives, advance careers and create leaders. We achieve this by partnering with organizations and governments overseas that empower their local communities through experiential learning and practical development. We provide others with the same positive travel experiences in which we ourselves engage. Through travel and cultural exchange, we help individuals reach their full potential, leading to a more tolerant, peaceful and environmentally sustainable world.


4 thoughts on “Japan Will Be Fantastic! But First, Getting There…

  1. I just read through your whole blog and should mention since you’re in Yokohama I have close friends in Kamiooka (Japanese family with two young children, husband of which went to Wharton Business School and his wife became my Japanese conversation partner and now dear friend). They are very familiar with life in the states and the stresses of adjustment, and their English is very good. Email me if you want their contact info. Soooo excited for you!

    Posted by Sabrina Witt | September 3, 2010, 10:06 am
  2. Hi Colleen,
    Sounds like you are going to have a great time. I will be following your journey…makes me miss my time in Okinawa!
    Have fun and keep in touch.
    Mrs. Bogart

    Posted by Mrs. Bogart | September 3, 2010, 12:29 am
  3. Colleen,
    I look forward to reading more as you continue your journey. Your blog nicely captured both the anticipation and nervous excitement of your upcoming year abroad. I am reminded of the “Ithaca” poem we read last year where the speaker reminds Odysseus to desire that the “road is long, full of adventure, full of knowledge.” I am certain you will have plenty of that.
    Mrs. Loomis

    Posted by Mrs. Loomis | September 1, 2010, 3:48 pm
  4. That sounds just like Colleen, and I can testify to the craziness of those last couple of weeks. One can only hope that the socks will be acceptable! But never forget to have some happy colors on you, to get you through the day.

    Posted by Amanda | August 28, 2010, 1:44 pm

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