Tellus: (tel’us), n. 1. [Latin] earth, soil, and the land; a country; the world. 2. a collection of Willamette University student’s insights, stories, photos and thoughts from their experiences studying abroad.

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The Most Important Lesson

Before I went to Japan, I always used to say

“No, I’m not someone who does stuff like that.” I used to limit myself like that and tell myself that there were certain things that I would just never do because they “weren’t me”.

I was wrong. Japan was a whole new, exciting world. I’d been there three times before already, but never for longer than two weeks. I guess I’d never realized, even though I loved Japan so much, that there was so much left out there for me to explore.

Six hours of class by day and karaoke parties or shopping at night was an entirely different kind of lifestyle for me. I’d never lived in such an exciting way before. I’d always felt tied down by the rules I’d been raised with and expectations of good grades and good behavior looming over my shoulder. Now, in a completely different country, I was totally free. I could just hop on a train anywhere anytime I wanted. There was no one watching over my shoulder.

So I did a whole bunch of things I could have never done at home, and it was fun. Sometimes I felt bad for betraying the rules I’d grown up with, but it was exhilarating. Most of all, no one could judge me because no one really knew me. They didn’t know where I’d come from, what I did all day, or anything at all about me. It was really freeing.

“I don’t do stuff like that” I would sometimes catch myself saying. But I could, I would always think to myself afterwards.

A friend of mine that I meant in the program I was on told me something really freeing. He told me that I can’t define myself by what I don’t do, because if I’d never done it, I’d never know.

I realized how limiting those words “I don’t” or “I can’t” were. I decided to stop saying things like that. I didn’t want to limit myself anymore or feel trapped and tied down. Of course following rules is important, but allowing yourself personal freedom is just as important. I think this is the most important thing I learned while abroad in Japan. I learned a lot of other things, but this is the thing that will probably have the most impact on my life from now on. I’m going to try going out there and doing more, I’m going to try going out there and being more.

Thanks to study abroad I really have become a better person, and I was really able to learn something that I think will benefit me for the rest of my life.

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