By Natasha Ubani
Minna-san Kon’nichiwa! Hisashiburi…
We parted ways last time amidst New Year greetings and well wishes. Now, 2019 is fully under way. I know school is in the swing for you all, but I am currently enjoying spring break—for two months! How? Well, come with me and we’ll take a trip down memory lane.
January, in a nutshell, was challenging. After the winter break, I resumed studies at my exchange institution, Waseda University, much like students at JU. However, while January marked the start of spring semester for the Phin Fam, it was a continuation of the Fall semester for the Waseda Big Bears. As much as I enjoyed winter break, it involved numerous trips to the library to study for final exams that would take up the better part of January.
A Humbling Semester
Even though I have experience studying in different countries and academic systems, I struggled having never experienced a “split semester” structure before. It was a test of my diligence as a student to carve out study time during all the holiday festivities. The hardest part? Writing finals for three weeks. The last three weeks of January consisted of exams, papers, presentations, and projects. Honestly, I had expected that Waseda might be tough, mainly because I was taking on the highest credit load I have ever attempted in a single semester.
But experience really is the best teacher. With eight classes, you can imagine why I struggled a bit. Without going into the sordid details of how many hours of sleep I did not get, I will say it was a good learning experience. I made it through the longest fall semester of my university experience and now I am armed with new knowledge that will make spring semester even better.
Also, it does not hurt that I have two months of spring break to recover.
Currently, I am one week into the break and I have been in full tourist mode. I came to Japan for school, but it would be a shame to miss out on the amazing culture around me. I firmly believe that there is so much school cannot teach us, which is why I jump at opportunities to study abroad. I can study while gaining exposure to different ways of life.
As cliché as it sounds, there is something to be said about leaving your comfort zone. It truly does amazing things for your perspective on the world. So, though a struggle, I am grateful for my fall semester experience. It made me realize that even with all I have gleaned through past study abroad experiences, there is still so much to be learned. I will not become comfortable in thinking I know it all. So, here is to great adventures this break. Mata o ne!
Natasha Ubani is an international student from Nigeria. Ms. Ubani is a Junior at JU pursuing a double major in International Business and Marketing. She is currently spending her Junior year at Waseda University in Tokyo as an exchange student through the Davis College of Business.