While living in the US I volunteered two summers at an English school that had many students from China, Korea, and you guessed it, Japan. Although the students grew up with different languages, habits, and cultures, they all shared some common goals in their new American lives. Particularly, these students wanted to study English, make friends, and travel!
The first summer I volunteered, the students all said they have big plans to travel, and by the second summer most of the same students had many travel experiences under their belt. Although I grew up in the US and spent most of my life there, I can’t say I have been to places like the Grand Canyon, Las Vegas, or New York like most of the international students from the English school had or had hopes to visit. In fact I couldn’t understand why these students were so obsessed with traveling until I went to Japan.
My first time to Japan was three years ago as a volunteer at a US military base about an hour outside of Hiroshima. My volunteering kept me on base 45 hours a week and a strict military and program curfew meant that I had mostly just weekends to explore off base. I crammed as much travel and time with friends off base as I could. I felt the time crunch and sense of urgency to see everything I could in the short time I was in Japan.
The next time I returned to Japan was a few years later through study abroad. By that point in my life I had already decided that I would live and work in Japan after graduation. My opportunities to travel greatly increased, yet I still felt that urgency to see it all. Just like the students I helped at the English school in the United States experienced, it seems once the travel bug bites, you just can’t stop but try to see all a country has to offer.
While this phenomenon happens to many people traveling to new places, I feel Americans in particular travel less than others, so their first time in Japan could very well be their first time out of the country. On top of that, Japan is a paradise for travelers. It has modern marvels, ancient temples, and an abundance of nature. Its public transportation is not the cheapest, but it is more often than not accessible and always on time. My favorite part about traveling Japan is attending festivals and sampling the local cuisines.
Have you been bitten by the travel bug? Where will you travel today?