By Kazuya Muto
So, at long last, I finished my exams, which means my course in Australia has come to an end, and yes, it's now time for me to head back to Japan.
I have mixed feelings about going home. Part of me is relieved, part of me is worried. I look back at everything that I've experienced in Sydney, the good and the bad. I look back at all the new people I've met here and the close friendships I've formed. You always learn something from meeting new people, but I can't even begin to tell you how much I've learned from my friends here. And I'm going to have to leave them soon. It's going to be hard to let go.
I have made many friends from different countries here: China, Taiwan, Korea, Germany, Sweden, Thailand, Peru, France, America, Canada, Sudan, and of course Australia. It wasn't easy. It took a lot of effort, when the greatest temptation can be to hole myself up in my room and shut out the world. I worry that these friendships will weaken when I go back to Japan, because distance can be the greatest enemy of human relationships. I'm afraid I will lose my friends.
But I'm sure that, even between now and when I get on the plane, I'll meet new people, and here's something new to worry about: How should I behave toward them? Making new friends can take time and effort, especially when living abroad, but I don't really have that much time left. Is there much point in embarking on a new friendship when it may just fizzle out after I leave. Perhaps I should be concentrating on the friends that I already have.
But even concentrating on the friends I already have comes with its fair share of problems. How should I behave toward them too? Should I tell them what's on my mind, this fear that when I go back to Japan our friendship will gradually fade away? I want to tell them, but at the same time, I'm afraid that if I do tell them, they'll be worried for me, or they might not understand. My friends in Japan probably wouldn't understand either: what it feels like to leave somewhere so imbued with memory.
When I was in Japan, I never really thought about these things because, obviously, I'd never been in a certain place for only a very limited amount of time. I'd never really been aware of restrictions like this. They're cruel and unfair, these study-abroad programs, because once you've formed these deep relationship it's time to go home and everyone scatters across the globe.
These thoughts have been heavy on my mind recently. Then, one day, my friend Shirley gave me a call and told me that she and some of my other friends had decided they would hold a farewell party for me. When I heard the word "farewell" I felt like I was having a heart attack. "Everyone will be there," she said, and hung up before I could ask who.
Shukan ST: Jan. 12, 2007
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