Although the past two days did center around the GLA (Global Leadership Academy), which was both fun and slightly terrifying, I also had some wonderful experiences outside of the more professional side!
The second day in Japan, and the first of the GLA, I was expecting to spend the day with Serena again, but instead I was surprised with another friend of mine, Nina! It was a lovely surprise, as I had also not seen her since the program ended. We agreed to be back by 5, and then proceeded to spend the day together!
We spent most of the day in Yokohama, where last summer we met with Baye McNeil. This is ironic because actually that day, my chaperone Sally went to meet with Baye!
The first thing Nina and I did was visit a museum she had been interested in going to for a while, and one that sounded pretty cool to me. It was the Cupnoodles museum! The fact that Japan even has a museum dedicated to the creating of instant ramen is honestly pretty much the coolest thing. Sadly, I couldn’t eat said cupnoodles, because all of them had meat. But the experience was still wonderful.
After the museum, it took us a while to find food, but we ended up getting some delicious fish with rice!! It’s quite funny because the last time I was in Japan, all I ate was rice, and this was my first time having rice since I had arrived. And then, we went on one of the amusement park rides near the metro! It was a little expensive, but super fun, and it spun a lot and went really fast which was great!!
Then, later that night, Serena joined Nina and I at our hotel room before we left for the first GLA dinner. It was honestly super wonderful to get to see both of them, and just have a bit of relaxed fun like I would do at home with my other friends.
The next day was mostly spent at the GLA presentation, but later that night Serena, Sally, Sosha, Shinobu, and I went out to coffee then dinner as a way to end the trip. We also tried out this AMAZING vegan ramen place, because most ramen dishes use pork in their broth, and so for my final dinner I had a delicious peanut ramen with curry as a side dish. It was delicious, and I wish I could have taken more home to the states with me!
Over the last trip I had grown extremely close to both Shinobu and Sosha, and so getting to have dinner with them, as well as Serena (who I had grown even closer to the past couple of days) and just relax and chat was one of the best parts of the trip. We caught up on all the things we had been doing since we last saw each other, from other programs we had been doing, to our school lives, to simply casual small talk. Even though both Shinobu and Sosha were my chaperones and mentors, I also see them as friends, and even parents in a sense. They care about me the way a parent does, and unconditionally love me and are proud of me, and I feel the same way. I am so grateful to have such wonderful and inspiring people supporting me in everything I have done, especially relating to this program. I don’t want to get too cheesy about it, but I definitely cried when we had to part ways at the end of the night. They truly are my family across the sea, and I was so thankful I got to spend time with them.
The final part of the night was a wonderful surprise from Serena, who had me meet up with N.M, my host sister from the last trip!! Originally she had been taking her final exams when I was here, so I really didn’t think we would get to see each other, but luckily the stars somehow aligned and we got to talk for a bit! It was short, but I was still so happy to see her again, as she was easily the person I was closest to in the program. It was an amazing surprise and a great way to end the trip.
Arriving back at my hotel and saying goodbye to Serena for the last time was incredibly bittersweet. I think it was the moment I realized that soon I would be back in the U.S. I love my hometown, and I missed my friends, but this trip was a wonderful experience I wont forget.