Every year I get invited to meet with and/or offer support to organizations that bring groups of students here from all over the world. The Tomodachi U.S.-Japan Youth Exchange Program and African American Youth Travel Program both fly in young people from the States, and Deakin University does the same for Australian students, just to name a few.

I'm still in touch with some of the students I've met with over the years. One of them is even here now, interning for me this summer. So, if there's anyone who questions whether these types of programs are effective, trust me, they can make an enormous difference.

I accept every one of these invitations primarily for two reasons. First, because I want to share with these youth what I wish someone had shared with me before I took the expat plunge. Not platitudes and propaganda from natives and Japanophiles, and not rants and raves from disenchanted expats, either. I just wish someone had given me "The Talk."