Davis College of Business Junior Natasha Ubani returns to campus after a year of studying abroad at Japan’s Waseda University.
In my first blog post, I expressed my desire to see what version of myself would be returning to JU. I have now come full circle.
This past year, my knowledge about the Japanese culture and my proficiency in the Japanese language increased by leaps and bounds. I experienced life at a large university in a bustling metropolis. I truly got to experience what it means to live as a local in Tokyo: eating, transportation, recreation, etc. Traveling is learning. I learned a lot.
So I would like to believe that the Natasha who returned to JU is a bit more independent, a tad more sure of herself, and a lot more culturally sensitive.
July was the literal end of my journey. I had my finals for the last of my classes at Waseda University as well as many last hurrahs with friends. I started the month with a to-do list because I had to somehow fit studying, packing, farewells, (and crying) in 27 days. So, here’s a recap of my last days in Tokyo.
My last day trip took me to a quaint seaside city in Shizuoka Prefecture called Atami. My friend and I took a cable car ride up to about 120 meters above sea level to enjoy a panoramic view of Atami’s Sagami Bay. Then we went on a short hike up the hill to visit Atami Castle. We enjoyed a heartwarming lunch of Japanese curry (even though Atami is known for its seafood) and spent the rest of the day exploring Atami’s seafront and bustling shopping arcade.
I worked my last shift as a chat host at LeafCup English Café. It was a party shift, so I manned the refreshment table with another chat host, and we made it an evening to remember. While working at LeafCup, I formed close friendships with many of the other chat hosts as well as the regular customers so it was a bit of a sad goodbye.
As for school, I had my last meets with Hauska, the Japanese culture exchange club I had been a member of, as well as all my finals. The highlight of my last week at school, however, was acting in a Japanese drama. I took a Japanese drama writing and performance class in which I worked with five other students to write our own short drama during the course and performed it as our final. I made my debut on the Japanese entertainment scene as Mai-chan, a widely loved but cynical Japanese pop-star. Even though I was super nervous through most of it, I watch my group’s performance now with a nostalgic smile.
Honestly, I know I could definitely write a lot more about my last month in Tokyo despite being back in Jacksonville for about two weeks, however, now I still cannot seem to come up with the words. July was hectic. It was full of nervous excitement about my return, bittersweet farewells, a stressful finals week, and packing till the last minute. July was lovely. I created beautiful memories with wonderful people who I know will be lifelong friends. I appreciated my time at Waseda University and experienced much more of Japanese culture.
Now a seemingly long year abroad has come to an end and, although I miss my time in Tokyo, I am very much excited about my senior year and all the amazing experiences ahead. Thank you Dolphins for coming along on this journey with me. I hope I have inspired a few ‘Phins to step outside their comfort zone and expand their horizons. JU has so many amazing study-abroad opportunities that can elevate your undergraduate experience. Maybe next time I will be reading about one of your adventures!
Cheers to a ‘phintastic year ahead!
Sore dewa, minna-san arigatougozaimashita.
By Natasha Ubani
Ms. Ubani is a senior and an international student from Nigeria. She is pursuing a double major in International Business and Marketing, and spent her junior year at Waseda University in Tokyo as an exchange student through the Davis College of Business.