I want to start this blog with a little anecdote. During the college application process, I remember being determined to find a college away (away as in as far as possible) from home. I currently live in Los Angeles, so I was really eyeing the East coast – hard. As the summer before college came to an end, as if I had forgotten I was going away for college, I realized that I will be in a city where I have never been to and I would be surrounded by strangers. Worst of all, after a long day, I cannot go back home and joke around with my siblings or have a home-cooked meal. I clearly remember feeling anxious and asking myself why I wanted to go far as I entered LAX (Los Angeles International Airport).
The question that I often got during O-week was, “Why did you decide to leave LA? It is so nice there!” Believe me, I wondered the same thing. The sunny, breezy weather, the palm trees, and of course the ocean. Classic, I know. However, the weather and scenery was not the only thing I missed. Coming from an international background, I feared how and where I would find my community at Tufts. I did not know the area nor anyone at Tufts. Following the freshmen tradition, I signed up for way too many clubs at the Club Fair. Although I ended up opting out of many of the clubs, I am glad I stuck with the few that I committed to. One of them was the Japanese Culture Club (JCC*).
As a freshman who felt homesick, JCC* helped me feel a sense of community. I lived in Japan for almost six years. So, joining JCC* allowed me to be in touch with the Japanese culture and be involved in various activities on and off-campus. I remember the first thing I did in the club was a potluck where we cooked Japanese dishes as teams for the club meeting. The upperclassmen were approachable and I remember having a lot of fun cooking. Although I did not know anyone in the club, I have made strong friendships in JCC*.
Two events really stuck with me. One is Matsuri and the other is our retreat to a farm in New Hampshire. As a club, we began preparing for Matsuri months in advance. From the logistics to practicing our dance, we were all dedicated to making Matsuri a success. The teamwork that went into planning and making the event a success strengthened the sense of community. The retreat, similarly, was an amazing bonding experience. We went hiking and this LA girl was really out there hiking in the snow with my sneakers. My ankles suffered, but in the end, it was all worth it. We cooked together and cozied up by the fireplace afterward.
As a sophomore, I am not feeling nearly as homesick as last year (maybe when the winter comes, my answer will be different). I am really glad I found JCC* and, most importantly, a community at Tufts. I highly recommend joining a non-academic club where you can find a community. For me, it was a culture club. It could be sports, hobbies, etc. Academics can get difficult pretty fast and, especially if you are feeling homesick, clubs will help create a sense of community where you can find people who share similar interests as you.