Hi my name is Lynelle Adepoju (though everyone just calls me Nellie) I am a 17-year-old half Asian, half African and I live in Yokosuka Japan.
Walking inside the airport, I held onto my ticket for dear life. After traveling around the country and jumping from school to school for a year, I didn’t know how to feel about taking this big leap and leaving the country altogether. Making a new life in Japan seemed like an obstacle I was uncertain I could overcome. As they called for my family’s flight I took in a deep breath. From here on out I would have to learn to adapt to not only a new home but to a new culture. On the flight, I couldn’t sleep at all. I was kept awake with doubts and worries about moving once again. But this time I wasn’t just worried about my new home and school, I was nervous of the idea that I was stepping completely out of my comfort zone and moving away from my friends and family in the states. I would be leaving my comfort food, and as a picky eater that seemed like a massive challenge then. I wanted to go back home. Back to my comfy bed and big house in San Diego. Maybe this is a dream. I’ll wake up in my room and this will only be a crazy hallucination. But we were still on the plane, bound for Japan.
The first couple of months in Japan were a complete mystery to me. I didn’t really spend much time outside the navy base and my life was centered around one section of the small neighborhood because my house was right next to the school I would be attending in the fall. It wasn’t until my first year of middle school that I was truly able to explore different aspects of Japanese life. On the way home from my school’s track meets in Yokota, we would stop by truck stops filled with restaurants that served all types of food. From udon and ramen to onigiri, which are rice balls, I couldn’t find anything that looked appetizing to me so I went with the one thing that seemed familiar, Starbucks. As the season went on, Starbucks became a routine as I was unwilling to try any new foods. That was until one of my teammates asked me if I wanted some of their udon, saying they were full and noticed that I didn’t have much to eat. I accepted, not wanting to be rude, and was surprised that I loved the taste of the tempura noodles. One bite after another and before I knew it the bowl was completely empty. This made realize my love for Japanese food and craving for trying as many new kinds of food as possible.
Living in Japan for 4 years has really opened my mind to living in a different country. Going to Kinnick has given me more opportunities to travel and explore than I have been given my whole life. Through 4 out of 8 years of playing volleyball, I have traveled to Misawa, Iwakuni, Tokyo, Yokohama, and Korea, playing against different schools that all had a unique style of playing. I feel that being given this opportunity, I have been able to not only become adaptable, but I also have been able to become a more open-minded and adventurous person.
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