Adventure in the Land of the Rising Sun (Part 1)

Throughout my college years I always made it a goal of mine to try new things, creating experiences that I could look back on positively with a sense of accomplishment as I encouraged myself to get out of my comfort zone and become more adventurous.
This was a venture into the unknown for me. I had always thought of myself as the introverted type who dreaded social interaction.
For example, the idea of having to talk to a cashier at the market was something I equated to the stress one would feel diffusing a bomb (isn’t self-checkout wonderful?).
This goal started my freshmen year and continued through my junior year. Through my involvement with the Schuster Theatre, Greek Life and WERG, I have been able to make new friends and become a more social person while being an active student on campus.
Through Greek Life, I was able to really kick the social anxiety through parties. Like teaching someone to swim in shark-infested water, throwing myself in these social situations helped me overcome my social shortcomings and reinvent myself as a semi-social butterfly.
While this was all helping me with improving my social skills, I still wanted more in the sense that I felt I needed to fully escape my comfort zone and experience something not only outside of my comfort zone, but outside of Erie, and maybe the whole country.
Since grade school, I was facinated withthe overall aura of adventure Japan had to offer. From the food to the cartoons, I was obsessed with the rich Japaneese culture.
However, as I grew up this dream slowly faded as I was getting into new things like music, writing, stand-up comedy and girls.
I had gone through middle school and before I knew it I was going into my second year of college. I felt as though I had missed my opportunity to do anything adventurous and it was time to grow up.
Going into my sophomore year I was introduced to the Gannon T.R.A.V.E.L. Program and was looking at the different places they had gone. These locations included Australia, Greece, Italy and many more.
While looking into the program I was informed about trips happening the following year. There was a wide variety of trips offered, but at the bottom of the list was the one location I had on my brain.
It was a trip to Japan that included Tokyo, Kyoto, the countryside of Hakone and more. It was at this moment that my dream from childhood came back to life. I instantly signed up, and once my junior year arrived, I was introduced to other people who were going on the trip with me. I did not realize this at first, but these people would soon become some of my best friends.
In the group there were different people from all social demographics and majors. From nursing majors to computer science majors, Greek Life to concert band members, this travel group contained a very heterogeneous mix of people from all walks of life.
This was great for me because I never thought of myself as the type of person who identified with only one group of people on campus. While I am a member of Greek life here on campus, I’m also a member of the Gannon Concert Band and WERG.

Throughout the year as the trip grew closer, I started to get a little nervous.
This was due to the fact that this was my first time going outside of the United States (other than Niagara Falls, but that doesn’t count.)
However, through being in good company with a group of individuals that I had grown close to, I knew I had nothing to fear. I had the company of people who were looking for the same adventure I was looking for and that would create an experience like no other.


Gabe Fulgenzio
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