Hello! My name is Nikki Marshall. I am a third-year student at the University of Texas at Austin. My major is sociology. Currently, I am studying abroad in Tokyo, Japan! Nice to meet you.
Currently, I’m in a café in Tokyo, Japan sipping on a cup of sesame milk coffee writing this last blog thinking about how soon I’m going to miss days like today. The next couple of weeks will be filled with studying for my finals that are creeping closer and I realize my time here at Tokyo University of Foreign Studies is coming to an end. I’m sure the feeling won’t set in until the day I have to move out of my dorm and watch all my new friends leave, but I can say I’ve already begun self-reflection on my time spent here. Tokyo is an amazing city visited by millions of tourists a year, but I’m lucky to have been able to call this city my home for the past 3 months. Before studying abroad many people seemed confused when I told them I would be going to Japan, and a lot of my friends and family asked, “why Japan?” I had my reasons, but I think most people often picture Europe or at least an English-speaking country for a study abroad destination, so maybe they were surprised when I decided on a not so popular location. At first, I was very nervous to be living in a place where I didn’t know much of the language and where the culture differs greatly from home, but I’m excited to say that I don’t regret my choice in Japan at all. With that being said, there are many things I could write about, but for this I would like to focus on some of the highlights of my life these past few months and showcase some amazing things about Japan and hopefully give people an idea of what this beautiful country has to offer if they choose to study or visit here one day.
Of course, Tokyo has so many famous attractions that I could list for days, but one must visit attraction is Tokyo DisneySea, a Disney park unlike any other in the world. It is often considered to be one of the best Disney parks and one of the busiest amusement parks. There are many rides and merchandise that can only be found there, but my favorite of the day was mochi (Japanese rice cake) shaped like the aliens from Toy Story.
Tokyo is a city filled with many places and activities to see and do, but its location is also ideal for day trip excursions. One of my favorite day trips was a visit to Kamakura. Only two hours away by train Kamakura has a very different vibe compared to the busy city of Tokyo. Kamakura has Hōkoku-ji temple which is a very popular destination because it contains a bamboo garden. Another site is Kōtoku-in which is home to the “Great Buddha” in Kamakura.
Another one of my favorite day trips was to Yokohama. Yokohama is a city near the water with an amazing skyline. The area is a perfect merger of parks and skyscrapers. The city has an amusement park, cup noodles museum, and a famous Chinatown. You could definitely spend more than one day here.
Besides day trips, visiting cities further away from Tokyo can be done relatively easily and cheaply by taking a night bus. I went to and from Tokyo to Osaka for about $40! I spent a week in the Kansai region where I traveled between three cities, Osaka, Kyoto, and Nara. As much as I love Tokyo, I would have to say this trip has been the highlight of my stay here in Japan.
In Osaka, there is Universal Studios Japan where you can experience a VR rollercoaster. Also, Dōtonbori, a tourist area in Osaka famous for delicious food.
In Kyoto, there is Fushimi Inari Taisha, famous for having many torri gates. I walked the shrine entirely which took a couple of hours but was definitely worth it for the amazing view halfway up. Later I explored the Gion area, the most famous geisha district and there found the most beautiful Starbucks which was built to look just like the historical buildings in the area.
In Nara, there is Tōdai-ji temple which is home to the largest Buddha statue in Japan. While walking through the park to the temple you can stop and feed the famous bowing deer. This experience was my favorite so far and I could’ve spent the entire day feeding the deer.
These are just a few of my favorite moments during my time here in Japan and there are many more that I could have said including the simple things that I will miss about my life here. I want to say that no study abroad experience is the same, even for people studying and living in the same school and city together. I believe any place a person could choose to study abroad in will surely bring a great experience. My hope is that if you weren’t interested in studying or visiting Japan before that now you are.
(Goodbye from Japan)
This post was contributed by Nikki Marshall, a 2019 Global Ambassador. Nikki is studying at Tokyo University of Foreign Studies.
Don’t get left behind. Read more about Nikki’s experience abroad>>