If you reading this blog as a guide to what to expect on your student exchange, I can’t emphasis enough how much fun you are going to have; it truly is the best decision I have ever made and I have had the best experience over the last few weeks. I wanted to write this entry as I feel it is important to let you know that there will be the odd occasion when you may feel a little disconnected from life here or back home, and that is okay. Sometimes, it is when you are first arriving and finding your feet, or when you are feeling under the pump during the exam period, or perhaps it is during times when you would be celebrating events back home. It is totally normal and the important thing to remember is that you are not by yourself… like trust me, it is impossible to be alone in this place! You can’t even go to the laundry without bumping into someone shuffling around in their PJs. Your AP crew is your family while you are on exchange, they are all in the same situation as you and it is important that you take care of each other.
So, as I am choosing to write about this, you can guess I had a bit of a rough week.
It started great. We had got a whole bunch of people together for a karaoke trip last Saturday and ventured out en mass into Beppu. Unfortunately, it was Golden Week (a week of public holidays in Japan) and Wei Wei’s knocked us back. It turns out they prefer to keep the rooms for Japanese people only during this time, and as much as we tried to respect that, it did feel a little unfair considering that a lot of the rooms were free. As it happens, we had an even better night playing ‘AP4 Eurovision’ down at the beach until the early hours. The night ended with a cheeky 0500 trip to Maccas to eat brekky while the sun came up before we made it into bed. I woke up a few hours later feeling surprisingly fine for a Sunday morning, did my homework and sorted out myself for the upcoming week like a proper champion.
I should have suspected my bounce back was too good to be true. I woke up on Monday with an annoying sore throat. Tuesday, I had itchy ears and a voice that rivalled Barry White. By Wednesday, I was a flu-y mess. Call it penance for a weekend enjoyed too much I guess. I had also been perhaps a little too smug about my avoidance of all the colds that everyone else caught when they first arrived, so much so that I had kept half the house going on the supply of Codral I’d brought from home. So when it was eventually my turn, it hit me hard. Unfortunately, I had given away my last two tablets only the week before and was therefore left to the mercy of Japanese cold and flu medication. Japanese meds aren’t particularly strong here. Not like back home where it dries out your face in seconds and gives you a much needed kick in the butt to keep going; so it took a few days for me to really start fighting the bug off. I spent most of the end of the week sweating to death in bed, forcing myself to drink tea (which I hate) and taking long hot soaks in the world’s tiniest bathtub, all the while trying to go to class, do homework, communicate with group project participants in a non shirty manner and torturing myself endlessly that my CSU assignment deadline was looming and I was still a long way off finishing. I was also completely sleep deprived as, every time I would lie down, my whole face would block up and I couldn’t breath so I was getting the odd hour kip here and there propped up against the bed head. Then, on Thursday night, I had a scare from back home involving my little brother. Everything turned out to be fine but in my fragile, sleep deprived, cold inflicted state, it was just one thing too many. I was tired, sick, emotional, missing my family and feeling totally miserable, and so I hid out in my room to avoid dealing with anything or anyone else.
The reason why I am telling you this is because feeling a little out of sorts happens to everyone at some point and we should be honest about it. Otherwise you think that no one else ever feels the same way you do which makes people feel even worse, even more disconnected. Of course, when you disappear, people will always come and find you. My beautiful housemates weren’t having any of my self imposed exile and, while respecting my need for some time out, hooked me up with tea, chocolate, hugs and trips to the pharmacy, just as I had done for them in the weeks prior. Finally, the medication began to work and, after a solid and much needed twelve hour sleep last night, I was ready to face the world again this morning. I hit up Starbucks with a friend for a good chat and giggle over coffee and finally began to feel like my old self again. Tomorrow, I will return to the world in time for the much anticipated Sunday morning breakfast and Eurovision house sleep over in the lounge; a perfect reintroduction to AP4 life if there ever was one.
So this week was a minor blip in an otherwise fabulous experience so far. I wasn’t expecting it and had never really felt home sick before when travelling so it definitely knocked me about. I am so unbelievably glad to feel better and get back to enjoying my APU experience, especially the upcoming trip to Tokyo next weekend. I sincerely hope you do not experience anything similar but if you do, it is okay to take time out and look after yourself. It is also important to keep an eye out for those who might also be having a harder time adjusting or experiencing a few off days. AP4 quickly becomes your family and the more you look out for each other, the quicker and easier you get through the harder days.
Anyways, this is about as serious I ever get so consider this my one and only ‘adulting’ post amongst the tales of adventure, study and wayward night time adventures.
I shall leave you with some of my ‘lessons learned’ for the week;
- Sometimes you will feel disconnected or out of sorts and that is okay
- Taking time out to regroup is a good thing, just don’t isolate yourself too much
- AP4 is your family while you are away; take care of each other
- Learn the kanji for ‘cold medication’ and ‘painkillers’ – trust me, it will help
- Always keep a secret stash of codral as a back up (just in case)
- Your student exchange is a whirlwind of emotions and experiences, take it all in your stride and enjoy the journey!