Countless chemical reactions occur in the human body every second of every day. These are made possible with the help of biological catalysts called enzymes. Enzymes reduce the activation energy required for a chemical reaction to take place. Similarly, we encounter a multitude of human interactions in our day-to-day routine. Shared experiences act as the enzymes of our social world to develop new relationships.
I have reached a point in my life where I live way beyond my comfort zone. My initial comfort zone was my home in Belgium, surrounded by my family, friends, and mother’s home-cooked food. After living in Antwerp for 17 years, I moved to the United States to begin my journey at Northeastern University. Boston marked an entirely new chapter for me with unparalleled exposure, constant learning, and personal growth. Within three years the city became my home and friends became family. But I always knew that as soon as it became comfortable, I would be leaving to embark on a year abroad in Asia.
Surrounded by lush greenery and tall bamboo trees shooting up into the sky, I observed the beauty of the forest. With each step up the mountain, I could feel the fresh breeze of Japan’s fall season drifting through the air and into my lungs. As I made my way to the top of Mount Inari, I sensed the heat building up in my body from the physicality of the hike. I started off the journey accompanied by a group of tourists. 40 minutes into the trail, they chose to take a break but I didn’t see a reason to stop as I was traveling on my own. I continued trekking for 2–3 hours through the dense foliage on my first afternoon in Kyoto.