Yufuin, Beppu, and Fukuoka

My Third Time Visiting Japan.

Japan is the very first country I went abroad when I was 4. I can only remember going up and down the stairs of an old house–I don’t even remember whose house it was. Next time when I visited Japan, I was in high school, traveling with my family. This time, I was in between undergraduate and graduate schools, traveling on my own.

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Mundane, yet beautiful and peaceful scenery.

The city felt magical in that it made me stop and gaze out into the scenery. It was hard to point out exactly what was so special about each store and street, but there was definitely something that made each of them distinctive and serene.

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Things were organized, neat, and modest. People were kind, polite, and affable. Even with my limited Japanese, I had no problem navigating around and conversing with them. Despite having a lot of tourists every day, their smiles were yet genial. As there were so many things to learn from their attitude and life style, I was so grateful that I had an opportunity to travel Japan at this transitioning phase of my life.

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Traveling reminds me of what it feels like to be isolated and baffled by new, unfamiliar environments. However, it also reminds me of victorious feelings of overcoming them.

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Climbing the academic ladder.

Moving from undergraduate to graduate school, from Republic of Korea to the United States, from where I am surrounded by my family and old friends to where I barely know anyone (yet) can be an overwhelming experience.

Hence, I often read essays on one’s experience in pursuing a PhD, put myself in her or his shoes, and imagine what it would be like, hoping to learn valuable lessons from their mistakes and not repeat them as well as to make myself prepared for the challenges and obstacles ahead. Last night, one sentence in this article struck me–probably because it’s something that has been scaring me the most: “I felt unsupported, isolated and adrift in uncertainty.”

In hindsight, I might have wanted to find answers to some of my myopic questions (such as how I can avoid having such feelings) through this trip. Instead, it taught me to keep my composure, relax, and focus on what is really important rather than being too tense and worried.

Stop worrying about what can go wrong, and get excited about what can go right. – Anonymous

To the next academic year with full of excitements, cheers!

– Yufuin, Beppu, and Fukuoka, Japan
July 24-29, 2017

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