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Before you travel, study abroad or not, you have to have goals. No one is questioning that. But, it doesn’t hurt to readjust, reaffirm, and re-list those goals once you’ve settled in. You’ll learn more and doubt less. So, here are a few new pledges for my time here in Tokyo.

1.I will grow my hair. This may be less a pledge and more a premonition. While I do like the idea of walking into a Tokyo barber shop and getting a trim, in my favorite game of trying something new, I am going to abandon my military-shave for the long hair that is fashionable in Japan. (I may only have half a year, but we’ll see what I can do when I will grow my hair.)

2. I will sing karaoke with Japanese girls. Karaoke and sushi are pretty much the meat of American perspectives of Japanese culture. So who could disagree that I should get pretty Japanese girls to sing the American country music that I love. I am thinking there could be some fantastic footage if I will sing karaoke with Japanese girls.

3. I will bathe in an onsen. Soaking in the nude in natural hot springs is traditional Japanese through and through. I am not one to be afraid of a little skin, so this is a must. I figured I’d let you know textually because NBC has reservations about viewer retention if any audience was forced to see me naked. So, I guess you won’t get to see for sure if I will bathe in an onsen.

4. I will not eat any fast food. I do not eat at fast food restaurants in the United States, but, I will admit, initially Japanese fast food seemed less sinister and less of a dietary disaster to me. I went to Sukiya and had a beef bowl my first week in Tokyo: cheap, fast, big and low quality (sound familiar?). It would have been a mistake to not see the Japanese version of fast food, so I don’t regret eating there once. It made my wallet feel better, but I got a bit of a stomach-ache. Now I can say that heretofore, I will not eat any fast food.

5. I will not get a cellular phone. Is there anyway for me to say the following without offending someone? I find short-term study abroad students (less than a year) who feel the need to get a cell phone obnoxious. … That is inappropriate to say. What I can say is that in the United States the idea that someone can contact me at any moment is troubling, so whenever I travel anywhere I use travel as a fitting excuse to be unavailable. I am in Tokyo. I am largely traveling on my own, and so any challenges that are emboldened by my cell phone-less pockets are welcomed by me. Phones are status symbols in the U.S. but, don’t be fooled, that trend, like many others, took form here in the land of the rising sun. It is readily assumed by Japanese people that I have a cell phone. I, more proudly than I should, gloat that I have no cell phone now, nor will I ever while I am in Japan. Maybe other students think it is easier to keep in contact with friends or family at home, maybe they think it is an efficient means of protection, maybe they want to be connected to whatever social network they have found abroad. I must respect that, but I will not get a cellular phone.

6. I will get A’s in all of my academic classes. In my past semester or two, I have become increasingly concerned with academics. Perhaps my increasing responsibility over my school costs, the passing of time and opportunity, or a genuine rise in interest has made me cognizant of grades. Whatever the reason, my studying in Tokyo will have no bearing on my intention to nail perfect scores in all five of my classes, from the Modern Japanese Empire to Comparative Asian Politics to Japanese Politics to the Politics of Human Trafficking to Asian Religions. Studying abroad offers fantastic opportunities, including the classes, so there is no reason not to enjoy the content and excel. There, now I’ve gone and said to an NBC audience that I will get A’s in all of my academic classes.

7. I will travel domestically as far from Tokyo as I can. I can’t quite justify this as a study abroad in Japan if I can’t get outside of Tokyo. Philadelphia doesn’t quite speak for the rural belt of central Pennsylvania, and the world’s largest city doesn’t quite cover Japan. So, I will travel domestically as far from Tokyo as I can.

8. I will travel somewhere every weekend. I counted every weekend I have left before I leave this archipelago. Not one will go to waste, and this is a pledge. That means wonderful additions for this blog, the photo album and probably also for my list of lost experiences. It is important that I will travel somewhere every weekend.

9. I will travel somewhere else in Asia. There are two plans in the works. For the interest of surprise, I will keep those plans as secretive as my big mouth can accomplish. All you need to know is that Christopher is taking a plane somewhere other than Philadelphia International Airport in the coming months. That is a promise; I will travel somewhere else in Asia.

You guys can keep me honest, and let me know if you have any suggestions or advice.

Jaa ne:

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