Case Study: Tomoka Joins Hiromi in London
Inspired by her friend Hiromi, a spirited 25-year-old woman named Tomoka packed up her life into two suitcases and set off for London. A city teeming with culture, history, and countless languages, London was a far cry from the tranquil gardens of Kyoto.
On her first day, Tomoka arrived at a bustling international students' meet-up, brimming with anticipation. She met friends from all around the globe, like Luca from Italy and Nia from South Africa. Although Tomoka spoke English, she often worried about making grammatical mistakes or not finding the right words.
However, Luca and Nia reassured her, "You don't need perfect English, Tomoka. Just talk to us! We're all here to learn, aren't we?" Understanding this, Tomoka began focusing on expressing her ideas rather than worrying about speaking perfect English.
Gradually, Tomoka began to appreciate the cultural differences between her friends and herself. She learnt to make Italian pasta from Luca and dance to African rhythms with Nia. She learnt about their traditions, rituals, and customs, and in return, she introduced them to the art of Japanese tea ceremonies and cherry blossom viewing.
The longer she stayed in London, the more she noticed different friendship patterns. While she was used to friendships that took time to bloom, she was surprised by the instant connections people made here. However, she also realised that deep friendships could come in many forms and adjusted to this new rhythm of life.
Tomoka found that London was shaping her character in surprising ways. She started to become more outspoken, willing to express her opinions in discussions and debates. She even picked up a dash of British humour. As she adapted to this lively, dynamic city, she learnt to be more flexible, understanding and open-minded.
Over time, Tomoka's motivation for learning broadened beyond just improving her English. She developed an interest in international politics through late-night chats with Luca, and she fell in love with African art inspired by Nia's vibrant stories.
Reflecting on her journey after a few years in London, Tomoka realised how much she had changed. She valued the transformation in her character, seeing it as a sign of personal growth. She felt grateful for the life-changing benefits of having international friends.
They had taught her that the world was much larger and more colourful than she'd ever imagined. She felt enriched, her perspective widened by the diverse people she'd met and the experiences they had shared. Life in London, with all its surprises and lessons, was a treasure Tomoka wouldn't trade for anything.