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COVID Chronicles
Living Through a Crisis

Engineering, science, economics and policy students
at Colorado School of Mines share their stories

Reflections from Abroad and Within

George Goldade
BS Mechanical Engineering, 2022

Land of rising sun

An exciting foreign land

Full of potential

After a year of searching, writing, and applying for the perfect study abroad program, I was Tokyo bound. Exhilaration surged through my bones as I boarded my flight towards a foreign country. Studying abroad had been an aspiration of mine since freshman year of high school, and at last my efforts had come to fruition. After conquering demanding degree requirements and arduous transfer credit approvals, Japan posed an exciting challenge. I was a fish out of water. Language was my biggest barrier, and also my greatest tool. Immersed, I began to learn the basics. I learned to order food and ask for directions. When I learned to read, even the labyrinth of subways began to make more sense. Unbeknownst to me, my life in Tokyo was about to be overturned. Media sources across the globe began publishing articles about a virus emerging in China now known as COVID-19 and forewarned a global crisis. Despite its presence, I continued to make the most out of my life abroad. I was learning and adapting to my new environment. I traveled the country, adjusted to eating all of my meals with chopsticks and embraced the beauty of thousand-year-old temples and shrines.

Clouds rolled in at noon

A storm looms in the distance

Prepare for the worst

Eight weeks in, my whole world crumbled. People in countries all across the globe were starting to panic in response to the unknown. Travel between Europe and the United States halted. Was Japan next? For weeks, I woke up every morning not knowing if my time abroad would end. Should I stay? Will I be forced to go home? What about all of my plans? Then the day arrived.

The sunset came quick

Nightfall, insomnia strikes

In due time, dreams stir

Twenty-two hours was all the notice I had before my flight departed Tokyo. My abrupt return home left me frustrated. What now? What’s next? I had devoted my summer to exploration. A journey through East Asia that would broaden my horizons and inspire self-discovery. I had saved money for two years to indulge in the trip of a lifetime. Instead, I was at home and feeling cheated. Now as I sit and reflect on the last six months, I know I will never be able to recapture the time or experience that was stripped from me. But my perspective has shifted. I don’t believe the world today is different in a fundamental manner from the world I embarked on at the beginning of my journey, but my understanding of it bears little semblance. Time has revealed that in return for my superficial goals I have been offered the very accomplishments I set my sights on from the beginning. A journey of self-discovery resulting in a deeper understanding of the world and the people that live here.

The storm rages on

Outside, the world renovates

Daylight is coming


This is an original piece. Do not reproduce without permission from the author/artist.

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