Life is a journey. Five years ago, I would have said that this statement was little more than a cliché. My twelve-year-old eyes would have seen it on colorful coffee mugs, in brightly colored greeting cards, and in feel-good movies but never would have thought that it would apply to my life. Living in Japan proved to me that this statement isn’t quite as a cliché as I once thought it to be.
Each and every day of the two years I spent in the thriving Asian metropolis of Yokosuka, Japan, was an adventure. When I stepped outside the guarded gates of the Naval base, I was greeted by tall, thin, multicolored buildings; many Japanese people mingling with foreigners; indecipherable signs; and an oriental smell unique to Japan. I watched the Japanese people in their everyday lives. Very young, well-behaved school children rode on small scoote
Light gray smog was sometimes visible around the peaks of buildings and the litter-free streets allowed many enjoyable shopping trips outside the base"tms walls. It"tms one thing for me to me told about the different cultures and countries of the world. It was, at the time, rather awkward because people kept glancing over at us with less than approving looks. My friends and I were free to walk where we chose and our usually over-protective parents were never given a reason to worry about our safety. rs while strangely-shaped, small, efficient cars sped by on narrow streets parallel to the main gate. We later discovered that, unlike on trains in the United States, the Japanese do not talk out of respect for others. We felt embarrassed that we had been loud and obnoxious; failing to respect the values of the country we were in. Japan was one piece of the journey but I anticipate with excitement what the rest of it will bring. It shaped me to become the person I am today; I wouldn"tmt have missed it for the world. I was, for the first time in my life, part of a minority and often struggled to overcome the difficulties I encountered in this situation. Military adolescents of all races, backgrounds, and religious convictions were brought together under a common and yet unusual circumstance. In the "Land of the Rising Sun,"tm however, this wasn"tmt an option for me. Cultural barriers also led to many humorous moments in my interactions with local nationals. I recall viewing a brightly colored map that was neatly posted on the wall at a busy train station and being thankful that my two friends with me were able to interpret it.