By the age of six months, I had lived in three different countries: the United States, England, and Japan. Even though I was born in California, I have lived in Tokyo ever since except for during the summers, when I return to California. For my family and I, this international lifestyle seems normal. My dad was born in France and my mom was born in India, but she moved to California when she was nineteen. Because of this, I speak English and French, and I’m learning Japanese and Punjabi. All this moving around has made me learn to be independent and open-minded, but my boundaries were pushed this summer when I went away to my first sleep-away camp in France.
When I return to California each summer, I realize how much independence I have in Tokyo during the school year. In California, I always have to be careful for snakes and mountain lions that live around my house, so I can’t go outside by myself. There is not much I can do without a car. For example, I can’t help my mom with her errands. In comparison, while in Tokyo, I am allowed to go to the grocery store, hang out with my friends, and go places in the city by myself. On a normal weekend, I am able to get dinner with my friends or just check out shops downtown. When I travel with my friends, we usually take our bikes, which allows us to go further than if we were walking. Growing up in Tokyo has also made me open-minded, as I have had a chance to travel to other countries in Asia and try new and sometimes strange foods. All of my travel experiences had prepared me to go to a sleep-away camp by myself in a country I was not used to. However, I was still scared going into this experience.
Two weeks later, I returned from camp having had an amazing experience. I was reassured by the fact that I could contact my parents every night, which helped me not to feel homesick and be able to enjoy the activities with my friends each day. I feel that I am now prepared for future situations where my parents are not with me. Another fear I had going into the camp was that if I would be able to easily speak with the other campers, since I was not confident of French. Living with five other girls in a tent and having to play bonding games with them forced me to practice my speaking skills. As we became friends, we talked more and more. The next week of the camp, I noticed that I didn’t need to put any effort into my sentences, and I no longer had to stop and think of what to say next. When I talked to my dad in French every night on the phone, he also noticed the difference in my fluency. Even though I had mixed feelings about going to the camp, it was worth it: I conquered my fears, made new friends, and had lots of fun.