Possibly Going To Hiratsuka & Thoughts on Wanderlust

I have been “provisionally accepted” into a study abroad program through the University of Kansas to study in Hiratsuka, Japan. This is something that I’ve wanted to do since I returned to the idea of being a college graduate. In fact, the wild notion to take Japanese is what moved me from the vo-tech building into the humanities department. Because I really don’t like working on cars after all, you know? This tangent that I hared after introduced me to many of the people and activities that helped me turn my life to a positive direction, so I will always have a special affection for it.

The problem is that there is currently a State Department travel advisory that might keep the trip from happening. I talked to my Japanese Literature professor from last semester the other day and she told me that KU students who were preparing for an entire school year to start just now have been recalled. How hard would that suck? I really feel for them. I sincerely hope that the advisory gets changed to allow us to go this July, because this will be my last chance to study abroad in Japan. Anything after this will just be a vacation, and that wouldn’t be the same I think.

Where is Hiratsuka, you say?

I lifted this image from Google Maps, as you can see by the copyright in the corner. Their terms of use looked like they just didn’t want me committing any kind of fraud with the picture or making people think that they endorse my use of it or this site, so I will say that they definitely do not have anything to do with RA outside of providing my email account which has nothing to do with this picture…

But anyway, the orange arrow points to Hiratsuka, and the yellow arrow points to downtown Tokyo. I guess it’s the same “super metro” area. I have no idea how close the two places really are. It could be just a localized train ride or it could be a big deal. I mean, as an American I don’t think about distance being a big deal, but I learned in England that when you don’t have a car, and can’t afford a bus or train ticket, a distance that I would drive without hesitation in the States to see a friend becomes pretty far away, actually.

But what about the nuclear disaster, you say? Where all that happened is pretty far up the coast. The latest I read was that radiation levels in Tokyo had returned to pre-earthquake levels. All I need is for the State Department to review the situation and then I will be good to go.

After filling out a ton of paperwork, anyway. All that starts tomorrow. I picked up the packet today, and I’m taking my deposit check in tomorrow.

Exciting stuff!

I have another website, a Live Journal if you can believe that, where about two out of every five posts in my private diary thing is about how much I want to get out of Kansas. I sometimes yearn for a home I never really had, and I sometimes yearn for the adventure of going a completely new place.

There’s something exciting about moving to a totally new place. Getting to know somewhere, finding the side streets, figuring out where the locals shop, getting comfortable. And then it fades away and I get the wanderlust. If I had the money or the guts to do it without the cash I would just kick around this whole planet, getting to know every place I could. I fell in love with Cambridge in the brief time I got to live there. Five weeks is longer than just a visit, but it’s not enough time to feel at home. The trip to Japan would be another five week summer program.

To inflict this thought on the public at large, I’ve never really felt comfortably at home anywhere. When I moved to Kansas it was to Fort Leavenworth. My father was in the Army and it never occurred to me that we wouldn’t PCS somewhere else, that he would retire here and Ma getting her Master’s degree at KU would mean that we would buy a house off post and just LIVE here. I told my old man the other day that after thinking about it all these years I finally came to the realization that I’ve been waiting to PCS my whole life.

Leavenworth is where I grew up, but I’ve always felt alien here. I have never really felt that this was my home. After a certain point, when I moved to Florida I think, I sort of grudgingly accepted it, but I reckon I’ve reneged on that.

I’ve got the old wanderlust, that feeling that caused men of old to throw belongings in a sack and head for parts unknown. The Germans have another word, “fernweh”, which is like wanderlust but means more, “gotta get out of HERE”. What keeps me in this place that I have never felt a part of? I’ve tried several times to leave, to be from somewhere else instead. My folks live here. My son Donovan lives here. I’ve got friends here.

So this is one way I’m living that out. I got to see some of the world last summer, and hopefully I’ll get to see the other side of it this summer. And maybe when I graduate something else will happen that will be a more permanent adventure. Who knows? I just may succeed in talking the entire family into moving back to Georgia after all these years away. Or maybe I will join the Peace Corps, another thing I’ve been kicking around.

Whatever happens,


1 Comment

Filed under Learning, Personal Reflection, Right Living, University of Kansas

One response to “Possibly Going To Hiratsuka & Thoughts on Wanderlust

  1. Monty Maxwell

    In the end, as an update to this, the Hiratsuka trip ended up being cancelled by the university. Out of 17 accepted applicants, 6 of us actually paid our deposits and turned in signed contracts. Some people had sudden financial issues, other people had parents who were afraid for their safety, what with the Tepco nuclear site thing and all. Which is stupid, because we would have been perfectly safe. But whatever. I had a meeting with the OSA and they showed me some other programs, but they were all third party agencies and not all of them were even through actual universities. There were a couple that looked like a lot of fun, and if I were a junior again I would totally have applied for them. But whether or not the courses would have done me any good toward graduating was something I wasn’t sure about, and the deadlines would have rushed me. Like, “there’s two days for this one, and I could call these two and see if they’d take a late application” type rushing me. Not being sure about anything and feeling rushed is not a way to plan a $10,000 trip, so I just backed out entirely. But I’m breaking out the old Japanese class books and kanji flashcards anyway, because I seriously need to refresh my memory and perhaps progress in my language skills. If you don’t use it you lose it よ.
    I’ll visit someday. For my college career I can be happy with studying abroad once, and at Cambridge of all places. Even not going to Japan this summer I’ve had a pretty good run at KU.

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