Hayden Skoch reflects on Middle School Japan trip

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17 students led by Andy Scott travelled to Japan in March, 2009

 This trip was different then any trip I have ever taken.  It was not like a vacation but not like a field trip either. It was a lifestyle for two weeks. It was an experience where I leaned to live an independent life style. I am very thankful for many aspects of this trip, just like I am very thankful for many aspects of life.
     I learned on this trip to support myself emotionally. I became a more independent traveler and learned how to keep track of my things. I got the opportunity to take care of myself and grow within myself.
     A had many favorite moments of the trip. Like life, these moments were not always planned out, sometimes the more spontaneous things stick with you. For example, the morning in Beppu we had breakfast on the beach. It was warm and all those birds kept flying up to us trying to take our food. Feeling the water on the other side of the Pacific Ocean was a breath taking experience for me. This experience was one that a person only experiences so many times in their life. It was a time I stopped and thought how amazing it was being half way across the world.
     Another moment was an afternoon when we arrived in Takeo. Many kids were sick and stayed at the hotel. A fraction of us went with Ann to explore the town. It was beautiful. We went on a hike we thought would be short but was long. It was to the top of a series of hills surrounding Takeo there were small memorials and Buddha statues through out the woods. It was the most beautiful thing I believe I saw in Japan. That moment being on top of that mountain felling the warn air, surrounded by cherry blossoms was truly untouchable.
     I regret a few things on this trip, however. I wish we had traveled less because for me the moments I learned and grew most were the more relaxed times, random outings or something unplanned. Those were the moments I learned most about the culture.
     While I was their it was very surreal. I don’t think I paid attention to every opportunity there. I don’t mean I took it for granted but now that I am back I wish I could throw myself back into some of those moments. Walking down a small street in Beppu trying to find an Indian restaurant, being in the space museum with Jenny and Peter, crawling through those small baby tubes, enjoying that cup of ramen at that amazing restaurant after the cup of noodle museum, or shopping in Osaka. These are all moments I wish to experience again. Even the time in Osaka trying to find the hotel, hungry, tired, and wanting to shop. This was a terrible moment I wish I could experience again because I was still in Japan.
     What scares me most is when I think of the future when I won’t be able to remember how it felt to be in Japan. Right now I can imagine being there as if it was real but in 5 years I don’t know what I will remember. I am thankful for this trip because it has inspired me to travel and think more broadly about life.