Kyoto temple and blossoms

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.

Yes, I know that “Turning Japanese” is a euphemism for something else, but the editors didn’t. Teenagers love pranks. Seriously, I think that these columns do make for an interesting read.