And what you see before you is to be my travel blog, this being the awkward first post that no one reads, the one where the blogger self-consciously tries to sell you on the project of reading about someone else's life for its prospective entertainment or educational value. Here's my pitch:
If you're not reading this blog because I'm related to you, (don't wave-- it's embarrassing, Mom!) then you should know that I'm a college student, majoring in East Asian Studies, and, as of the writing of this post, about 24 hours away from landing in Japan for a 3-month term at an international university in the northern prefecture of Akita, where I'll be doing the usual abroad-student activities: making friends, learning the language, and in my case, finally experiencing life in a country that I still know only secondhand.
I've already traveled enough to know that this will almost certainly involve a vertigo-inducing loss of illusions as I fumble my way towards actually living in a place I've just spent around ten years dreaming of and three years writing essays about. I'm still waiting to find out how much I recognize and how much will be new.
An added complication in all this is, of course, not where I'm going, but when. My first experiences in Japan will come only shortly after an immense earthquake and tsunami that, at present has ended the lives of 27,000, laid waste to dozens of towns on the north-east coast, and triggered a ongoing nuclear crisis at Fukushima. Even though I'm far enough away from both the stricken coastline and the damaged nuclear power plant to be safe (and not to interfere with rescue efforts), I'll be headed into the immediate aftermath of what will probably be a defining moment in the century-- one of those nodal points after which everything changes. To say I don't know what I'll find is probably an understatement. Here goes nothing.