After the flurry of activity over my last few weeks in Japan, this place has become sadly quiet recently. I've been trying to convince myself that the reason i haven't been writing in my blog is because i want to keep it as an unblemished memory of my exchange experience in Tokyo. But i'm starting to realise that the real reason is far more mundane: i've just been too lazy to update it.
So, starting today i'm going to try to keep it updated with some sort of frequency - although I think it will rather unfortunately not be as bright and interesting as I settle into my life of reading law text books and judgments back here at Uni in Australia.
And why the sudden realisation? Well today after class i managed to find my way (after getting lost and having to ask for directions...) to the study abroad/exchange returnee debriefing session. My law class was until late though so i only actually caught the last 15 minutes of the two hour session. Still i think they must have saved the best for last. So for any of you who might have been, or are still on, exchange here's some words of wisdom that i took out of the session:
Don't put your experience of exchange neatly on the shelf and move on as you settle back into life at home. Make use of it. Find ways to use some of the skills you acquired in your time away. Get involved with incoming exchangees. Give something back to the programme that you got so much out of. And most of all, don't forget it.
Now that probably sounds like a whole lot of rather unastounding, common sense stuff - but when you suddenly yank yourself out of your life as an exchangee and suddenly find yourself back home it's very easy to forget. Especially with all the different sorts of pressures you may have to face after a lengthy absence. Friends change. Or maybe you have. Things don't work the same way as you remember. And perhaps what is most frustrating, is that you really can't properly convey the experience to anybody who has never been on exchange. It's a really strange feeling to be home but feel so alone. I can't count the number of times i've been asked 'so how was your exchange?'... Good? Great? Fun? I really don't know. It's like asking 'so how has the last six-months of your life been?' as a greeting. And in the midst of all that uni starts and you have no choice but to do your best to adapt to the way things run and leave the memories for later.
The thing that was really good about today's session was to find some people there who i could really relate to - even if i'd never met them and they had been to completely different corners of the globe for their exchanges. It's funny how we all seem to have the same sort of problems settling back in to life at home.
After the debriefing, there was an exchange student welcome party of sorts (or maybe, judging from the turn out, it was more like a welcome home party) at Pug Mahoney's Pub down the street from Uni. Caught up with a couple of people who had also been in Japan for the last six-months/year and had a few laughs over things there. And to top it all off, i met a japanese girl there who's on exchange from Sophia University who knows my friend Jerry! Coincidence? Perhaps. But it definitely made me think 'i'm glad i bothered spending that extra bit of effort finding the debriefing session...' It reminded me of one of the most important things (i think) i learnt from my exchange: life is what you make of it - and if so much of life rests on chance, it is up to you to grab hold and make the most of it.
So what are you doing sitting here still reading this? Go and do something productive ^^