It’s time for a rather serious topic. With half of my time in Japan already gone (Wait, what? Already? Where did it go?), I’ve noticed that at times I find myself forgetting that I came here as a student and not as a tourist. Yes, I have been going to concerts, going shopping, and doing everything else that has made me feel like a kid in a candy store, but when it comes down to it, I did not come here to do those things. I came here as a study abroad student (and you’ll note that the words study and student always come before and after abroad). It seems as though I’ve mixed up this order and put the abroad aspect above everything else.
Don’t get me wrong, I did come to Japan with an initial plan. I was going to focus on my studies during the weekdays and use the weekends to explore the wonders of the country and have a little fun. That was how it started and for a while it seemed to work, but I found myself drifting further from this practice as the semester progressed. Maybe it’s the excitement of being in a new country and trying new things, but I can’t let it overwhelm me. The fact of the matter is that although I am in Japan, I’m here by myself, with no parental guidance. I have to take matters into my own hands, behave like an adult, and make adult decisions. One of those decisions being how to find a balance between work and play or being able to decide when it is best to sacrifice one’s wants for one’s needs. I’m having trouble with this so I decided who better to ask for some tips than my fellow TUJ students. Here’s what some of them had to say:
“I incentivize things. I’ll study for an hour or so and then eat three chips or watch an episode of ‘The Following’ then go back to studying. It’s like setting short-term goals and rewarding yourself for achieving them.” -Lilly
“There’s a lot of studying involved but I prioritize what I need to do and tackle that first to make sure it gets done. I also get my work done between classes so I know I’ll have time on the weekends and won’t have to rush.” -Nina
I realize for each person it’s going to be a different experience but as study abroad students (and students in general), it’s imperative that we learn to find the middle road between schoolwork and having fun. You may have been waiting to see AKB48 (or even Miyavi) live in concert but they’re not going to be the ones who will explain to your professor why you were too excited to study for you midterm and got a failing grade. A lot of the time that you are here, you’ll find yourself saying, “I want” to see this or “I want” to do that. However, ask yourself, considering your circumstances, do you really “need” it? It’s about priorities and since we’re in a foreign country we need to have them more than ever. There’s nothing wrong with indulging in a bit of fun after a week of studying, but like everything, we need to do it in moderation. With this in mind, I’ll definitely be trying Lilly’s incentive approach. Time to prioritize, hit those books and earn my fun!