For my French study abroad semester, orientation was 2 weeks long and is finally nearing its end. It’s been an exhausting time, though nowhere near as intense as the orientation in Yokoze, Japan for the fall. Comparing the two, as well as my internship program in Mongolia, brings about some interesting reflections about what constitutes a “good” study abroad program. Namely, I feel that integration into the community for students is key to developing a truly fulfilling experience.
Pretty city, won’t you tell me
Why when the river sighs on rainy nights,
I think of singing 燕 (tsubame) perched to the right
Of couples embracing on the benches by the sea?
Why, oh pretty city, as I flâne beside the plane trees
I think of 杉木 (sugiki) and 蝶 (chou)’s spiral flight,
And columns conjure skyscrapers and the sight
Of tangled iron, wood, and glass that brought the passioned to their knees?
Dear pretty city, when your bells toll and chime,
I hear the branches whisper on the maple leaf and sakura hill
Where on a cool Monday moonrise I belonged
In the arms of one I loved, who loved me. How time
Pounds like taiko drums, fate blades like moulin windmills.
Do I wait on the bridge, or follow the swallow song?
Written January 7, 2019.
While I was reading, in the purple pen with which you wrote your letter, I could hear your laughing voice, and more.
London Bridge is falling down, falling down…
London, like 2018, is complex for me.
Two years ago, I came to London on a 3 day trip with my once-friend. It was a rich cultural excursion filled with lots of fun activities and sites, but it was also a lesson. I lost someone whom I once considered close and started doubting myself on that trip.
2018 was similar in that sense. It was an emotionally turbulent year, but filled with unique, unparalleled experiences. I did not doubt my choices – on the contrary, I built my confidence in them back up – but I started doubting other things. Dreams. Identity. Relationships.
It’s now 2019 and I am starting off the year in London.