A view of Tokyo Tower and the city skyline

By: Bob Emmanuel Mulamba​, Simon Fraser University, winner of the BC Study Abroad: Stories from Abroad Scholarship

Study Abroad Destination: Tokyo, Japan

A lot has undergone within this past month of living in Japan. I believe that this exchange has offered lots of valuable experiences that will help shape my future professional career and potentially the rest of my life. I began my journey ready to surge forward into this brand-new world sprawling with the unfamiliar. I thought that I would need to change myself to fit in with the new process of life in Japan. However, in trying to fit in, I realized I was sacrificing a part of myself. I would shut off the sides of me which are ambitious, optimistic and gumptious to not isolate myself and to not be “that guy”. But I soon realized that accepting your own uniqueness and your differences are what makes your journey abroad that much richer and fulfilling. My experience thus far has changed the way I see the world now. I view Japan as a second home.

When I express the interest in pursuing a life in Japan, it is sometimes hard for me to explain to other foreign students why I would want to do such a thing. They often want to hear the answers that fulfill their own ideas of what the world is for them. Thus, in trying to respect everyone’s point-of-view I often found myself not being completely honest with what I would try to express.  For some, staying comfortable in their own skin is of upmost importance. I’ve grown up different my whole life and nothing has ever stopped me from pursuing what seemed almost impossible.

As an individual in Japan, I stand out; whether it may concern my stature, my ethnic and cultural background, or my outlook on life, I stand out. And these differences have strengthened my drive to learn more about the world around me. I am currently the only exchange student at Waseda University in the Bio-life science department, and this situation has given me opportunities to speak with professors who have graciously opened their doors for me to observe the type of research they conduct and the impact they want to make on the world.

Japan in all its beauty, offers a good challenge for those who want to test its waters. Having walked through both the bustling streets of Tokyo and through the quiet peaceful locales in Japan’s rural areas, I can say that this country has a lot to offer for those who want to come here.

I had never thought, in all my life that I’d be able to experience life in another country and I hope to continue making new and exciting discoveries throughout my journey.

よろしくお願いします。(“yoroshiku oneigaishimasu” is a Japanese idiom which means “please treat me well”)

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