Day 16: Still Learning to Fly / by Sarah Kakusho

Today is what I call any stay-in-my-room, being-a-hikikomori day, me day. I took a break from the lively city to let myself recuperate from this cold that I still have. Yes, there’s a reason why I still have it, because I refused to stay in for one day to let my body work its magic. As a result, I didn’t have much Spanish today, outside of the TV I watched [I swear, by the end of study abroad, I would’ve re-watched all the Disney movies in Spanish]. Not good. >_< But, it’s just today. So, anyway I spent the day in bed…well, ON the bed. I wasn’t tired and I got bored so I decided to restart a few projects that I held on hold because I was too busy.

I was able to continue working on Project esCAPE [5 years and still going]. Study abroad is just what I needed as inspiration to continue with this piece. Why? I had my first spark of inspiration when I went to Japan, prior to going to SUA for freshmen orientation. Two chapters are dedicated to experiences and ideas I had there. Being in Buenos Aires has given me the other side of the world: the city, what it’s like to fend for oneself in a large place all alone. Like my mom said, you learn to really survive. I think going through these experiences as well will make Project esCAPE much more realistic and meaningful.

I also composed half a song on Finale. It’s a piano/harmonica/string orchestra/acoustic guitar/bass piece. If I ever perform it, all of it would be on one track and I would just adlib on harmonica. I think this composition, when I listen to it way after study abroad is over will remind me of Buenos Aires and my first two weeks here. During the making of the first half of this song, all I could think about was my 2-week experience here.

At first when I arrived here, I felt like a baby bird that barely knew how to fly, that got kicked out of the nest too early. But, once you start falling, you only have two options: to continue falling and land [painfully] or to spread your wings and hope something would happen. I’m pretty sure my first few days here made me feel that landing splat was perfectly fine. But, I think something in those few days made me realize that if I didn’t spread my wings, I would regret the coming days, weeks, months that I was here. So, in dedication to this realization, my new song is tentatively titled “Not Afraid to Soar.”

Yes, I have a slight obsession with wings and flying…and whatnot, but I think, if there’s anything in life, I want to be just as free as the birds that glide in the sky. Life has given each of us wings, the potential to reach up and touch the sky and beyond, where endless possibilities await. It only takes courage to spread those wings.

For me, I’m not quite there yet. I still lack confidence and courage to be able to step up and continue onward [regardless of how much I determine to do so]. I need to make something out of my study abroad here. I need to make it a life-changing experience. Nobody else is responsible for that, but ourselves, because WE make OUR OWN experiences.

To be completely honest, it’s very lonely here, so it’s hard. Regardless of being able to talk to people in my program or my host mom, even in English, there’s still a void. There’s a sense of not being able to fit in. It’s much like high school actually. In a city where there are few Asians, it’s much harder than I’d imagined to meet people without that first initial, oh jeezus, she’s Asian. I’d rather wear a bag over my head and get stared at for that [<-- idea was Erika’s].

Even for the short time I’ve been here, I have more appreciation for many things that I know I’ve taken for granted, one of which being my family. Back at SUA, they were always just an unlimited-minutes-for-AT&T-to-AT&T phones phone call away. Here, they’re a 1-hour international phone card away. I miss calling my mom up for no reason, having nothing to say, and then being asked something along the lines of “isn’t your room mate there to have this silent conversation with you?”

Today, I only went out to get my laundry done, and when I got them back, they smelled so different [let alone SOOOO strong…it was intoxicating …Price went up 2 pesos per basket, too]. Because I’ve gotten everything washed at least once, I can’t remember how my clothes used to smell like. It’s almost like a construction of a different self. I go solely by Sarah here, not Kusho. Wearing the same clothes that I did before SA, but they feel different. It’s definitely mind-boggling.

I never thought I would have to go through another major identity crisis after freshman year at SUA, but I feel this is close to one right now. Who am I outside of my family, outside of my friends, outside of all the connections that are attached to me? I don’t know. William James wrote an article stating that there are 3 Me’s: the material self, the social self, and the spiritual self. Who am I, spiritually? I guess this is one of the many challenges of study abroad. Who am I?

SUA has kicked me out of the giant Soka nest that I finally got so comfortable in these past two years. Now, I’m alone again, on a journey to find who I am. But, I’m not the only one out the nest. I need to remember that. I have to. I just need to remember to spread my wings and fly and one day, I’ll make it back to the nest.