I made a lot of friends, both American and Japanese (and even German), while I was overseas.
I enjoyed the company of most everyone on the trip, and while there were frustrating times, just like any trip with a group of any size, we had each other’s backs, and the experience definitely would have been lacking without their company.
The first of the lot I met after my first few days with Thomas was Stephanie, Mariahn, Yogi, and Meghan.
Meghan was really quiet. I didn’t get to know her very well, but she seemed to me to be a very eager student. Most of the people there had taken only a semester or two of Japanese, but she seemed confident. When we went to a karaoke bar, if I’m not mistaken, she sang exclusively Japanese songs, something I didn’t even dare to do unless I knew the song by heart. She seemed to have a good head on her shoulders, but I like I said, I didn’t get to know her very well.
Then there’s Stephanie. I quite enjoyed her company, and she was an agreeable person. She ended up getting the host mom I initially wanted with the children, but it was probably for the best because I heard she had restricted internet use at the house. I remember she’d wake up super early every morning so that she could go to the University to use their Wi-Fi to keep in touch with her boyfriend. Luckily, I had the benefit of being able to text for free overseas, so I didn’t need internet to communicate with my boyfriend, but I still sympathized with her.
Mariahn was the sweet fashionista of the group. I commend her for being able to wear heels at all in Japan with all the walking around we did. I sported flip flops and tennis shoes the entire time, taking it super casual, but most of the time, she put more care into her outfits on a daily basis than I’m sure I have in at least a year. She was a sweetheart, and she helped me win a crane game.
Yogi was quite the character. His actual name is Spencer, and so I asked him the meaning behind the name ‘Yogi’, and like any good back story to a name, he told me, “It’s a long story.” I don’t even remember the full details myself, but I do remember that a yogi is a Norwegian storyteller, and I remember he and one of his friends who had since passed went dumpster diving so they could get suits from the YMCA for job interviews. He’s also worked at Excalibur, served a mission, and was active duty. He had a lot of stories to tell, and he’s had many interesting things happen to him, so his old buddy started calling him Yogi. (If you see this Yogi, correct me on any mistakes!)
Then there’s Cody. I’d already known him before because we’d taken Japanese classes together since my freshman year of college, but we didn’t connect too much til Japan. The poor thing ended up needing to go back home a week into our trip because of a medical emergency, but we were at least able to do a few fun things.
There were others who I met later: Joel, Torrie, and Celeste.
When I saw Joel, he was originally supposed to be in Japan a day sooner than everyone else, but he had a serious delay in Honolulu, so he came to Japan with a ukulele and I think a Hawaiian shirt. He definitely had a personality.
Like Meghan, Torrie was quiet. We didn’t talk much except once on the way back to campus from Nara.
Celeste was also pretty quiet, but I remember she loved Sonic the Hedgehog, and she was definitely in Japan to get the cultural experience.
The last of the American bunch was Thomas, who I got to know quite well on the trip. Well, actually he was German, but lived most his life in America (I think). He loves old video games, and he also loves Snoop Dogg. Thomas definitely had a way of caring and looking after the rest of the group, something I kind of lacked. Every time we went on excursions as a class, he was the one who always looked back to make sure everyone was with us. He’s also plenty fun to be around, and he had few objections. One of our fun times included discovering the bidet option on Japanese toilets.
More on the tomodachis later. This is just a short description of them. 🙂