Samantha Rios-Arizala - Carving a New Path

SamI was initially planning on going to art school. My entire life previous to graduating high school revolved around art, and so I that’s just the path I thought I was destined for. The last few months of my final year of high school flew by and the pressure of competition and forming a good portfolio was all I knew. When graduation was over, I shut myself out from everything, I abandoned crafts and I took a really long and boring break. For months I didn’t want to do anything, I gave up. When I heard about studying abroad, I knew it was my chance to start fresh, to live in a new world. By looking at foreign campuses I learned about Lakeland University Japan, since having taken a break from art I figured it was a good chance to move forward without necessarily following art. I was scared to live abroad, I was socially anxious, but I was ever hopeful that coming here would help me get on my feet again.

Months after adjusting to life here, I feel like I’m finally able to be myself again. I’ve made many friends from many different backgrounds. Learning about others and how life is for different individuals has been very beneficial to my personal development. Blending of culture is one of the biggest things the USA is known for, and I have experienced that here more than I ever have in my life living in the United States. I’ve come to appreciate my own heritage, I’m Hispanic, and many Japanese people have never met someone with my background. My life here is a giant cultural exchange. I’ve learned a lot from Japanese culture and have come to appreciate how diverse the world really is.

Lakeland has helped me start a new life and experience an entirely new culture. The people here are friendly, and I like having a small community. It’s easier for me to make friends when my classes aren’t so big, and I love how close the school is to my favorite places. Tokyo’s artistic culture is slowly getting me back into making art, so I'm lucky to be close to galleries and artistic hotspots. I’m happy to have come to Lakeland.

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