Skip to content

Roscoe Beitel: Student Report from 2019 Alternative Fall Break to Japan

Roscoe Beitel wears a kimono in Japan.

It’s been a dream of mine to travel somewhere outside of the United States. The feeling and state of mind while being in a totally foreign place where I couldn’t read anything and listen to any verbal communication incredibly piqued my curiosity. Only observing, seeing all the differences and similarities to my home country is something I wanted to experience. So, after seeing the announcement of the Japan trip on the college of engineering website, I knew it was time.

When we arrived in Nagoya, we met our guides and were stuffed into what I call the smoothest, fastest train I have ever been on. The ride over to Okazaki was absolutely mind-blowing. At first, it seemed like I was watching a movie on Japanese architecture, while being oblivious to the fact that everything shown before me was only within walking distance. It was when we passed a jet-ski race in a special arena that I knew I was indeed halfway across the world.

The Global Studies Café was where we had a history lesson on Okazaki, origami, and calligraphy lessons. I remember the calligraphy lesson vividly since the very nice elderly lady took my left hand with her right hand, reaching over across my face almost breaking my neck, and gracefully helped me write my name in Japanese. I thanked her, was relieved I didn’t get injured, and was excited to show my mother what I have done with my new, drastically improved handwriting.

Mountains in Japan.

The tea-plantation was one of the highlights for me on this trip. Before, I’ve only had classic southern sweet tea, and the occasional hot green tea at any generic Asian restaurant here. In Japan, I experienced so many kinds of tea with each having a different taste, as well as how tea became such an important drink in the community.

On the ride back to the bus station at the end of the trip was terrifying. We rode in taxis and I got to be the lucky winner of having shotgun in the sedan. It felt very odd sitting on the front-left seat without having a steering wheel to hold on to. If the driver would make a left turn at an intersection, I thought we were going to have a head-on collision with oncoming traffic every single time.

I completely don’t regret going on this trip and I will be visiting again soon. Everyone I met was extremely polite and made the experience that much better. I’m glad I captured a bunch of pictures because I never would want to forget this.

The flagship campus of the University of Tennessee System and partner in the Tennessee Transfer Pathway.

View our Privacy Policy.