While going to Japan seems like fun and games, one mustn’t forget the serious aspects about traveling to another country. Especially a country like Japan, where the culture is wildly different from the culture here in the US, not to mention the sizable language barrier.

I suspect the language barrier shouldn’t be much of an issue–I’m nowhere near fluent in Japanese, but I think I have enough under my belt to feel my way around. I’ve been going back and doing some revision over the past couple of weeks, which has mostly been composed of writing all the kanji I know multiple times, but I have also gone back to review vocabulary I should know, and grammar bits I’ve forgotten. I naturally haven’t had much practice speaking, but that’ll all change once I touch down in Narita.

The large cultural gap is more of an issue. I’ll admit: My knowledge of Japanese culture is limited to what I’ve taken in by way of speaking with my Japanese friends, and what I’ve seen in Japanese media. I’ve done no real extensive research, so I get the feeling that no matter how many entries on Gaijin Smash I read, there will be surprises. But instead of being shackled by the unknown, I choose to be liberated by it. Some things will undoubtedly come off as annoying, and at times I will probably miss things I can only acquire back at home, but if that happens I will do my best to not fall into despair and instead take it easy. This is an opportunity to embrace a new culture–I should be totally accepting and take whatever comes my way with a good attitude.

I have no idea how my time in Japan will change me, and if it’ll change me at all. What I do know is that I’m looking forward to an interesting and enlightening learning experience, and I’m pretty sure Japan won’t disappoint in that respect.