Brody Clancy went to Tamagawa Academy in Japan

My first day in Japan, I landed at Narita airport to be greeted by my host family. Immediately I knew I was going to enjoy my exchange experience. Never before had I known people to be so kind and caring as those who I have met this month. For example, every time I found myself lost in the maze that is the Japanese train system, I was saved by someone unknown to me. Many times they would take me all the way to my own train station at the cost of their own time and money.

When I first arrived at the school I was blown away. Everything–the campus and the buildings– was enormous. Students were shy to talk to me for the first week, but by the start of the second week I had made friends that I know I will never lose contact with. The people of Tamagawa and Japan truly are kind and warm-heated and I have never felt so at home. The best example I can give of the kindness shown to me during my exchange would be when I decided to join the Tamagawa soccer team. As a few of my friends may know, I used to play soccer for Mustang’s Division 1 team a couple of years back, but was forced to quit due to medical reasons. A few months prior to my exchange, I was cleared to play competitive sports once again and in Japan I decided to do just that. Fifteen minutes into the first soccer practice I once again decided to quit. The intensity was like nothing I had ever experienced before. I would call them nothing less than monsters. Even more horrifying was that these practices lasted from 4:00 to 7:30 every day of the week. The truth was I was nothing like the other players. I hadn’t played competitive sports in at least two and a half years. I was utterly out of shape, outmatched, and outclassed. At the end of the practice I couldn’t stop my body from shaking, which only angered me more.  When I sat on the bleachers to change my shoes, a man named Kansei as well as five others came up to me and said in Japanese, “Let’s play 5v2!” My first response was along the lines of, “haha, very funny, make fun of the exchange kid,” but their genuine smiles told me a completely different story. I realized it wasn’t an act of pity or a jab, but that they ​truly wanted me to join them. Every practice after that day I stayed an extra hour and a half to work out with my newfound friends. I gradually started catching up. Even though I wasn’t there long enough to stand toe-to-toe with Kansei and the rest, I will always remember them for the unbelievable kindness they showed me.

Another aspect was that there were eight other exchange students there with me. It has been almost a month since my exchange ended, but I have kept in touch with many of those eight people. So much so that in a few months I will be traveling to Taiwan to meet up with a couple of them once again.

This experience has really opened my eyes to a whole new world I was ignorant of before. I am thankful to have been lucky enough to experience Japan’s beautiful culture. To those thinking of applying for exchange to anywhere, especially Japan (completely bias but hey, what writing doesn’t have at least a little), I would say do it. As another exchange student told me, “Life is too short to stay in one place, go experience the world.” That same man has lived by those words his whole life. I have learned more about myself during this experience than I ever thought possible.