In my first few days, the loneliness began to hit me. I had no one to talk to, and my friends back at home were all sleeping because of the totally different time zones. Like I mentioned before, I’m an extrovert. Without anyone to spend time with for a long while, I would wake up early morning, and head back to my hostel at sundown which would be around 5pm. I’d sleep early, and start over. Though I did have a great time exploring the cities by myself, I still longed to have someone to be with.
I looked up language exchange meet ups on the web, and attended one for myself. And it was a great night! This would be my first real time interacting and getting to know some locals in Tokyo. With the quality conversations, I was able to get more of the feel and environment of this great city and its people.
Then my first weekend in Japan came along. My friend Emilia had also taken a visit to Tokyo from Osaka. She’s taking a gap year from school, and spending it with her family in Japan. With her around, it was so refreshing to see a familiar face in a foreign country! I got to experience Tokyo differently in which I had someone to explore with! Meeting new people came natural too. Being with someone so social and outgoing, breaking the ice with other strangers was so easy for me.
Emilia was only in Tokyo for that weekend, but ever since then, her push for me to put myself out there, and to be less timid was my first step to opening so many doors, and creating friendships with strangers in Japan.
Throughout my trip since that weekend, I went out of my way to be intentional and conversational with some new people. In doing so, I managed to make some new friends in my hostel, make new friends at a bar, and even just someone on the street. I managed to exchange contacts, and hangout with them later during my trip! In being upfront, I was also able to just approach some other photographer, and ask to collaborate sometime in the week. Through this, I got the opportunity to work with local talent and models to photograph.
Getting out of my comfort zone in a foreign country has taught me so much about culture and myself. Going into a country knowing no one, and coming out with friendships, bonds, and memories that will stay with me for a lifetime, I can say that even though two weeks didn’t feel long enough, I’m so glad and blessed that I was able to enjoy it to the fullest. I fully encourage anyone to take any opportunity to travel anywhere, even if it’s by themselves. When I stopped having the mentality of “I’ll wait until I have the time and money to travel,” I opened so many doors I’d never thought I would stumble across. I made a plan for myself. I told myself I would go during this time, and then I made it happen. I worked for it. And you can too.