How I Got to Travel to Japan for Free

Last March, I received an amazing opportunity from my university. I was one of the three people chosen to travel to Japan for a short-term study tour to the University of Tsukuba.


I actually realized my love affair with Japan quite late; it was during the summer before my last year in university. I missed a lot of the amazing opportunities that my school had for those who were interested in Japan - a minor in Japanese studies, a certificate in the Japanese language, a junior term in a partner Japanese university and more. So I tried to make up for it by taking six units (two courses) of Japanese studies: Japanese 1 and Japanese Food and Culture.

It was definitely one of the best semesters of my university life. I literally look forward to every single day of class and felt sad when we had a free cut. A month before the last day of classes (ever, for me, since I was graduating), our sensei announced that they're trying out a new exchange program with a Japanese university and needed people to fly to Tsukuba to tour the school and get acquainted with the program.

I instantly jumped into the opportunity. My sensei didn't elaborate on how we could participate but I cast away all my reservations - I didn't have high enough grades, I'm not minoring in Japanese, I can't speak fluid, conversational Japanese yet, etc. - and just sent her an e-mail expressing my interest.

After a few days, I received word from my sensei that I will be one of the students flying to Japan with my flight and accommodations expenses to be shouldered by the partner Japanese university.

I could probably have done multiple cartwheels if I could!

Here's my biggest take-away from this amazing experience:

Stop thinking of excuses why you can't do it; start thinking of reasons why you should just go ahead and JUMP.

After going through the visa process, I was all set for my first ever trip to the Land of the Rising Sun.

Sure, not all opportunities will turn out as great as mine did. That's not a reason to not try. Not trying means you've automatically failed, you forfeited your chance at something great, you denied yourself the possibility. But honestly trying and giving it your best shot? That teaches you something about yourself and hopefully, takes you to places you've never been to :)

When was the last time you took a chance? Tell me more in the comments! I'd love to hear your stories of bravery and courage :)


travel diary! I might split the entire trip into two or more posts... I took a LOT of photos and I cannot just choose a handful. And after that, I'll show you how I'm planning a travel mini-book for this trip ;)