I Was A Teenaged Expatriate

Nearing the end of my High School career, I felt like the future had yawned out before me into an abyss. I felt teetering at the edge of it all. I felt unready, unsure about what comes next. I decided to take a year as an exchange student. I chose a destination with dart-on-the-map-board precision: Japan. It was as far from home as I could get without coming back, literally the opposite side of the planet.

These are my observations, written during that year. They were published as a column called "Turning Japansese *" by the newspaper of my hometown of Shepherdstown, West Virginia.

* "Turning Japanese" is a slang term for something else, but the editors and many of the readers didn't know that. Teenagers love pranks.