Elisa Velez - The Beginning of a Journey

ElisaAll throughout your schooling and life itself, you will encounter two main kinds of people; those who know exactly what they want in life and have a plan on how to achieve it, and those who don’t. I once belonged to the group of people that didn’t know what I wanted to do, and, as the end of my high school years approached, more and more people would ask what I wanted to study or do with my life. I began to feel an inner pressure to be able to answer those questions, but I felt that I couldn’t because I didn’t know what I wanted to become or what I really wanted to study. The thought of going to college or university itself scared me to the bone, especially because I had grown accustomed to the online system and believed that going back to a brick and mortar system would be traumatic. The only thing I was sure about was that I wanted to study aboard, in a different culture from mine, and learn another language. So when the opportunity to move to Japan was offered to my parents, and they asked me if I wanted to join them, I didn’t hesitate to accept the offer. As I began the quest of searching for universities in Japan, I stumbled upon Lakeland University Japan (LUJ). The first thing that caught my attention was this idea of a Liberal Arts university. I vaguely remembered someone once mentioning about a Liberal Arts university, but I didn’t really know what it was about.

The day I went to meet the school’s counselor, I was fascinated by how different and unique Shinjuku was. It felt like it was a true Tokyo experience, with the modern buildings, the immense train station, the crowds of people coming and going, and the huge amount of fun activities that the district seemed to offer.

When I entered LUJ building, the sound of laughter and the sight of the friendly faces of both Japanese and international students filled the environment. As the counselor began explaining about the liberal arts system and how the college would open an even greater door of possibilities to continue my academic studies, I knew this was where I wanted to be. It wasn’t until I got accepted, however, that the true-life changing journey began. Through the liberal arts system, I had the possibility of exploring all kinds of interesting and enriching subjects; from the ones in which I was really interested, to some amazing ones that I wouldn’t have considered before. The size of LUJ allowed both students and teachers to become very close, like a family. It’s a place where teacher’s lessons go beyond textbooks and lectures, and anyone can become the best of friends.

After four semesters in LUJ I finally know what I want to do: I have learned and grown as a person, and have the most wonderful and caring friends who teach me a lot about their different cultures. Lakeland was, and is, the beginning of a new journey to discover myself as a person as well as academically and ultimately discovering Japan. And as Gabriel Garcia Marquez once said “What matters in life is not what happens to you, but what you remember and how you remember it.”

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