Student Adventures in Asia 2011

William Liew tours Japan...

From a UVM Reunion in Japan to the Great Beach Bumming Vacation in Okinawa!

My experiences in Japan would takes pages upon pages to write up. But as the title says, there are some experiences that come straight to my head. It all started when I arrived in Japan…

When I first arrived I was in Osaka, the second largest city in the country and where some of my best friends live now! I met up with Japanese friends that I met at UVM and together we had a solid month before my study abroad program started to just get adjusted and immersed in Japanese culture. Of course, this was more for me rather than for my Japanese friends.  

Will on Mt Fuji Will and friends on Mt. Fuji

We climbed Mt Fuji and went to my first ever Japanese concert. It was a blast!  I participated in the Kansai Gaidai ISEP exchange program, and thanks to my friends, I was able to enjoy countless adventures in the Osaka area.

After the Kansai Gaidai Program ended I started to prep for my next study abroad program which was the UVM Aoyama bilateral exchange in Tokyo. I did not know anyone there, so I had to find an apartment on my own.  That was stressful, but it all worked out.  I arrived in Tokyo and was getting settled into my new neighborhood when the earthquake struck.

It was pretty terrifying. School had not started, I knew no one in the area, and the stress was overwhelming. However, upon stocking up on water and dried foods, I started to feel better.  I did make sure I had an umbrella every time I went outside, however, because everyone was afraid of radioactive rain.  Classes began in April and it was at Aoyama University that I had the chance to work as an English tutor.  I met many new friends in that job and one of them was from Okinawa, the southernmost island of Japan (essentially Japan’s Hawaii).  Before too long, my friends and I took off on a $400 beach bumming adventure in Okinawa!

We stayed in a capsule hotel in the big city of Naha for 3 days, and then things got a little crazy.  We camped out on an island without working ATMs and had no access to money for a good 5 days.

Beach in Okinawa Relaxing on beach in Okinawa

We went to secret beaches, coves, and swam in the ocean with no constraints.  We soaked up the sun and when the vacation was nearing the end we could honestly say that we had been homeless and penniless on a tropical island for a week. These experiences made my study abroad time incredibly fun and unforgettable!