From Albania to Zimbabwe: Winter Break Reflections

IMG_1541Hi there! My name is Akira Camargo, a freshman hailing from Tokyo, Japan who will try to crack funny jokes and puns from time to time as I write posts for From Albania to Zimbabwe, the ins and outs of being at Brown from an international student’s perspective. Through my posts, you’ll be able to learn more about all things international here, ranging from international events at Brown (cool guest speakers, festivals and parties) to my thoughts on living in America for the first time (!!!), and a bunch of other interesting stuff as my first year at Brown unfolds. Hope you enjoyreading them!

Happy Spring Semester, folks. After a very overwhelming and exciting Fall Semester, I was able to return home to Tokyo for Winter Break. I had little over a month to spend quality time with family, friends, and eat great Japanese food! It was more than great to be back, seeing that I had my room to myself (I still love you though, roomie), had no more lengthy papers to write, and had some extra free time. 

Winter break was an awesome time to reflect on my first semester living abroad.

So here are some of the tips, experiences and thoughts I had in my mind after spending my life in America and Brown for the very first time!

1. Brown students are passionate, eccentric and eager: one of the biggest contrasts I realized when comparing students in the US (especially at Brown) to those who attend college in my home country of Japan, I realized that the students here are bold and eager, in every great way possible. I initially imagined my college life here to be one where I would be challenged by teachers and academics. In fact, I couldn’t have been more wrong. Brown has a unique community where not only teachers and your academics challenge you more than ever, your students and fellow classmates also encourage you to speak more, think deeper, and laugh louder.

2. Being a first-year international student makes it easy for you to want to stay in an ‘international bubble’. Try to get out of it. It’s obviously great to have friends here at Brown who share the same experience as the “kid who came from another country.” But you are here in the US for a reason. To get an American education. International students definitely do not comprise the entire student body. So, make friends who are American! American students are most definitely not the same across the country, and this school has the great privilege to house so many students who come from different states, backgrounds and have a myriad of experiences and lifestyles. As for me, some of my closest friends are from the US, and we get along really well! Don’t be afraid to branch out!

3. Homesickness is real. But you will get over it. There were multiple times throughout the semester when I craved my own bed, the occasional sushi platter, and my mom’s home-cooked meals. Perhaps even the desire to speak your first language can be a form of homesickness. But from a person who has never left Japan his whole life, I can say that these feelings will come and go, and will never consume your college career. College is overwhelming, but in a good way. If you do feel homesick, just know that your family is one phone call away, and Skype and Facebook are great options to keep in touch. What helped me the most to get over homesickenss, though, was to always keep myself busy. Whether that was through extracurricular activities or spending time with friends, it is great to set your mind to college, and stick to it. Because when you return home, it feels SO much better, if you try to not think about it too much.

So these are just a few of the many thoughts I had over the break. If you want to know more, let me know! I would love to share more.

Stay warm – because I know we Brunonians didn’t this past week!

If you have any more questions, comments, suggestions of what I should write about or just want to chat, feel free to message me at


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