Last March, I was one of the 23 selected students to participate in the Daniel Inouye Kakehashi Scholars Program. It was such an unforgettable experience, and even until this day, I feel incredibly lucky for the opportunity. One of the best things about the Kakehashi project was meeting and becoming friends with the students from Japan.
During my time in Fukuoka, I bonded with a few of the girls. Fumika Sato, a senior at Fukuoka Jo Gakuin University was one of the girls I became close friends with. I forget how we got into this specific conversation, but Fumika mentioned that her boyfriend is from Australia. I later told her that I had planned to study in Brisbane, Australia the following year at Griffith University. Coincidentally, she planned to move to Australia on a working holiday visa around the same time.
Ever since I returned from Japan, Fumika and I remained in touch. Occasionally, we updated each other about our arrival dates in Brisbane and made plans to reunite. As we all know, the pandemic changed everything. I was confident that I would be sent home because of the uncertainty of available flights and my overall safety. However, I was given the choice to stay and I do not regret my decision.
About a week before my departure, Fumika and I finally were able to reunite. It was difficult to plan a day and location because Fumika lived in the countryside, while I lived on campus (which is closer to Brisbane City). We were able to meet up twice before I left. I know it sounds sad because it was a brief amount of time. However, due to the unusual circumstances, I am incredibly grateful we spent those two days together.
This experience showed me the best part of being abroad is not only creating new friendships, but it is also the reunion, especially if it is on a completely different continent!