I had an opportunity to apply for a one-week program in Japan organized by my high school, but I allowed fear to get in the way of me going for it. Five years later, as a college junior, I came across a summer study abroad opportunity in Japan. I was aware of other opportunities, but those were either for fall/spring semester, or a whole year, and I wanted to graduate on time. Finally, it seemed like my moment had come. I had been itching to go to Japan since I first became aware of its existence in elementary school.
There was just one problem: the deadline was a few days away, and two letters of recommendation were required with the application. I knew it was poor etiquette and unrealistic to seek letters of recommendation from my professors in such a short time. I was bummed. As a junior going into my senior year the following semester, this was likely my last opportunity to study abroad. I didn’t want to let go of this chance.
Why not ask them to extend the deadline?
It worked with professors for papers, so I decided to give it a shot and send an email. I didn’t get a response, but when I checked the website, the deadline had been pushed to a later date, giving me a little under two weeks. I decided not to question it and thanked God for it. After I refreshed the page (repeatedly) to make sure I wasn’t seeing things, I wasted no time asking my two referees for their recommendations. One of them was not happy with the short notice given, but supported me anyway. I poured all my hopes and passion into the essay and got it done. Additionally, I went to the study abroad office to keep tabs on the progress of my recommendation letters. On the day of the deadline, they told me that they had not received one of the letters. I went to the office of that referee and swallowed my panic as I gently reminded them that the deadline was 5 PM that day. I decided to carry over the recommendation letter to the study abroad office myself.
With everything done, I hoped for the best. Some time later, I did a phone interview with the program director and from there I was accepted. That study abroad program was better than I could have imagined. I stayed with a lovely couple and two of their sons, took classes at a Japanese university, and got to explore 5 prefectures. I still look back fondly on that experience. It was a stressful two weeks to get the materials together for the application, but it was more than worth it. In that moment, I realized just how much wanted it and how willing I was to make it happen.