Dear Future Intern,
I wish you the best on your journey ahead. Please read the following in times of doubt, confusion, depression or sadness.
You will be fine.
Today is hard.
It’s ok to crave home.
This is the blueprint to remind yourself that this internship is as much about finding yourself as it is about discovering new places.
When you reach Japan you’ll be excited about all the possibilities. You’ve probably done all your research, and maybe you’re even carrying a heavily marked up Lonely Planet guide book. For the next couple of days, until the end of the second week, I want you to keep your eyes open, ears tuned and your mind focused on what you see and hear. I want you to forget all that you read and learn from where you are. Can you remember the way to your new house? Do you know street names? Have you tried to recognize co-workers, neighbours or vendors? Take in the experience of a new home before you take in the city and the country. Pace yourself.
Plan to achieve what you’ve set out to find but don’t limit yourself from possibilities. When you feel yourself getting overwhelmed remind yourself of your priorities. What can you go without? When should you push yourself and when can you take a break? What can you absolutely not leave Japan without doing? There will be a lot of people telling you what your experience should be like. Please remember no experience is lesser. And as cliche, as it is to say, there is no right way.
Things have a way of working out so don’t fret too much. It’s going to be hard. I can’t tell you how because it’s different for everyone. But please know that everyone is struggling with something. In my experience moving to a new place by yourself highlights your self-struggles. So remind yourself that this internship is a part of your life. It will end but before it does you need to spend your time enjoying yourself to your fullest. Don’t worry too much. You still have all the shelter and comfort from your home and family. They are far away right now but they are with you. It’s ok to reach out to friends, and seek comfort in familiarity.
You’re there to have an adventure, keep that in mind. We’re multi-taskers. If you’ve made it this far you’ve displayed the ability to be strong, well-organized and vigilant. Push yourself as much as you can here, test your limits without worry. This is the time to give up your worries and embrace adventure in all their scariness. Take a deep break every day in the morning and find that one thought that will help you create an adventure out of your day.
Remember you will always have your centre even in the middle of chaos, don’t be afraid to be you. In the middle of everything remember to find your centre. Don’t be afraid to make connections and comparisons with everything you see and feel. When I was travelling I was often worried to draw from my own experience to explain something I was seeing. I thought of all the Anthropological debates I could be having on the dangers of basing your view of one culture on your own cultural lens. But I realized there is no other way to relate to a place than to find yourself in it. Learn to know yourself, and be confident in yourself.