I attended Kansai Gai Dai Daigaku in Hirakata-shi. I lived in Katano-shi. It took me about an hour to get from my host family’s home to school. I rode my bike to a bike parking lot near the eki (train station), locked it up with a neat tire lock that was the combination kind, rode the train with one changeover to Hirakata-shi and then walked about 30 minutes to my school.
The sheer horror I felt upon realizing that no one I knew was going to help me to know where to go from the changeover to my school was one of the most frightening things I’d experienced to that point in my life. Thankfully, I’d taken it upon myself to get to know as many of the other foreign exchange students as I possibly could during our week before host family placement.
My host sister directed me to where I should go and I, a scared woosie, cowered inside myself and tried to follow her directions. I kept wondering how I would ever know if I’d gone the right way!? Surely I wasn’t going the right way and would end up somewhere far from where I should be! You cannot imagine the degree and extent of my relief when I saw another foreign exchange student from Kansai on the platform I ended up at. (I was elated to realize I had comprehended her directions AND executed them properly!)
The poor fella I recognized? Well, I was so thrilled to realize I knew someone there that I ran up to him and embraced him with the exuberance that only someone who knew me back then would understand. I’m not the person I used to be….
Anyway… the first couple weeks were full of anxiety and fears. I had a difficult time acclimating to Japanese life. Not that I disliked it. I guess you have to understand who I was up to that point a little better.
Before I went to
as I remember myself, I was a very shy person who was working on “fake it till
you make it” outgoing-ness. I was doing
really darn well, apparently, because no one around me believed for a second
that I was shy or introverted. Yet, I
definitely was. When I was younger
(before I absolutely HAD to start doing things for myself, working, and making
purchases and whatnot), I was terrified of social interactions. Even the simple kind of a barely
communicating purchase at a fast food place seared me with dread. I was shiver-me-timbers scared stiff. Seriously. Japan
I remember one time, when I was trying to do something or another online, I started to feel the room was shrinking around me. It felt like I couldn’t breath. Honestly, I thought I was going a bit nuts and burst away from what I was doing just as quickly as I could, jammed my outdoor shoes on and ran to the top of the hill to a small park of sorts. It’s a quiet place I’d found. I often escaped there during the school day when I felt the beginnings of that anxiety-attack feeling come upon me.