This past week I was unexpectedly able to cross out many items on my bucket list. Besides visiting art museums and trying new foods, I had the opportunity of visiting Mt. Fuji by bus, cruising through Hakone River, and hiking Mt. Takao. As I rode on the long bus ride leading to Mt. Fuji, felt the warm sun on my skin on the river, and walked through Mt. Takao, I realized the healing power of scenic greenery, quietness, and stillness. Because I only have wifi in convenient stores, cafes, and my apartment, the serene feeling during these times isolated with nature proved to me the importance of completely taking breaks from emails or social media – even if it is only for ten minutes during busy school seasons. To many, this may sound obvious or like a cliché. However, it is one of those lessons that I always heard but actually understood this past week. I never experimented with it. From going from high school to college and either working, volunteering, or studying for the MCAT during my summer breaks, I never really tried taking this break. My time spent in Mt. Fuji, the Hakone River, and Mt. Takao introduced me to both hiking as a fun hobby as well as the unique beauty of being still and living in the present.
Mt. Fuji in the background
Boat ride on the Hakone River
During Mt. Takao hike
My internship is equally bringing many joys and new realizations into my life. Although the relationship with the student doctor whom I work with is a bit distant (a characteristic that I learned is quite common between students and teachers in Japan), I have had the honor of working under my supervisor, Lakeita. Aside from thoroughly explaining each concept and assignment for each week, Lakeita constantly expresses endless willingness to help. For example, the first week I was here, she sent me many emails filled with advice on how to live under a budget in Japan, churches in Tokyo, language exchange opportunities, volunteer centers, and events occurring in Tokyo. Also, when I was unsuccessful in finding a blanket to buy during my first week here, Lakeita went to three different stores near her station to look for blanket price options. And, when we speak in conversations, I also notice how much detail she remembers from our past conversations. This attentive ear that Lakeita demonstrates has enabled me to realize how genuine attention and compassion allows the recipient to feel less alone and cared for, especially during times in which she feels vulnerable – such as my time of adjustment the first week. When I reflect on myself, I realize that I do not always presently listen to what a person is telling me, missing details that may be very important to the other person. Lakeita has helped me realize the vital role that attentive listening and care have on interpersonal interactions. And, I could not be more thankful.