Hello! Hola! こんにちは! I hope everyone who's reading is doing well, since I have quite the series of events to document and detail for everyone and also for myself! I had my highs and lows for my first few days and I'm not holding back anything on how I was feeling or thinking because I feel like if such things occur for anyone else then maybe it would be comforting to hear that yeah--I had some not so good first days while in Japan. Of course, that doesn't take away from the good, but both will be explored, so sit tight for this ride!
Adrenaline After a 13 Hour Flight
I took a straight flight from Newark (EWR) to Narita (NRT), and that's a looooooooong time to be sitting still in a plane. What else is there to do but curl up and try to pass out for as long as possible when on there? I am a very social person, and although people tend not to talk with their neighbors as to not annoy them...I talked with the person sitting next to me for a few hours. I want to mention her just because I was in awe at her story for being on this long flight as well. She was so kind, and honestly it felt sort of surreal that we were sharing our reasons for being on this journey together. She was flying to go see her son, and still had another leg to complete to get to an island above Guam. All in an effort to see her son for five days for his birthday. It just struck me in a certain way because the amount of travel just for about a week of time to cherish together...It just sort of showed me once again all of the effort a parent can go through for their child, whether they realize it or not. The rest of the flight was rather mundane, watching movies and eating food (Note: This will be what I call a "necessary evil" as I shall suffer greatly for the blunder of eating plane food).
Upon arriving in the airport, it's off to immigration to get processed in record time with the proper QR codes and documents in folders. A stern consequence of not having the best conversational Japanese would certainly be that sometimes when things are said to me I just sort of reply "はい?" With a neutral smile on my face while scurrying around in my hamster wheel brain to translate the words I know. Even with limited Japanese, though, don't be scared. Just make sure you have your QR codes up and ready and documents in a little folder you have in your carry on. After Immigration, it's down to baggage claim and then straight through customs, which is also quick with a QR code scan. (I am extremely grateful I did all of that beforehand—see, everyone! Checking 18 times does pay off!)
Once through customs, I made it to the terminal to meet up with E-Pals and Staff in the meeting spot, at which I truly hit my peak of adrenaline and hype for just meeting other people. It hadn't hit me that I was in Japan yet, for some reason, but I blame the jet lag on that. It turned into a chaotic thing of shipping off suitcases, running around to get currency exchanged, a bus ticket, and a SIM card. I did all of these things with the help of my amazing E-pal まおさん! (Mao-san いちばん~!/The best!) We laughed and talked about whatever came to my sporadic brain as we ran around the airport and then got on the bus to the hotel everyone would in the program would be staying at for orientation and everything. I gave Mao-san gift, and she also got me some snacks (おいしい~!/Delicious~!). A lot of people were super excited, but personally I was quite exhausted, and knew I just needed to take a bath and knock out from such a long day.
I didn't realize it at the time, but my "too tired to eat" was in fact something I was not anticipating at all. I was coming down with some sort of food poisoning and didn't even know.
I awoke several times during the night due to jet lag, which I thought to be normal, but now my stomach was beginning to hurt. "Ah, it'll pass--just nerves perhaps" is what I thought before I just got up and got ready for breakfast. Made my way there, ate a bit, and then "Ah, this stomach thing is starting to feel really not good," but I feel like the gravity of 'tummy hurt syndrome' began to set in when we all went outside to walk to the school. I was talking with a fellow correspondent (Zev, hope you doing well fam!) and that 90 degree heat was feeling mighty oppressive on my weakening body, all coming to a head when getting to the school and my vision got blurry in the classroom. I excused myself to the bathroom shortly after, and some time after that I threw up. So, yeah, not my best moment? Once I had composed myself best I could, I asked if I could be helped back to the hotel since I was not feeling well and explained the situation. It's strange, because when you're on the floor after throwing up, it feels like the world is ending in a weird way. Suddenly, I became aware of a plethora of things, all hitting me like a truck.
I was in a country across the planet from everyone and everything I know, writhing on the floor in sickness trying to think about what I could do to help myself. It is this sort of feeling that makes all of the worst thoughts also flood into my mind at the same time. Like, "What if I'm not cut out for this?" and such. I know my physical constitution is not like everyone else's, so all of those doubts began taking hold of my heart like a vice grip. It was really a straining feeling, and I truly felt like perhaps I was a bit in over my head. "I couldn't even get through my first day here? What am I doing?" All of these negative thoughts were consuming my head for a good while, but at a certain point I was too tired to think anymore and suddenly I found myself in my hotel room trying to recover for these next few days.
The next few days I focused on survival: Just trying to make sure I got enough food and water to avoid headaches and such. Those negative thoughts had their time to marinate within me with every hour I was awake just laying in bed. Just trying to distract myself with watching videos. But after some time I started...getting better. It took a few days yeah, and I was frustrated I wasn't better after just a day or two, but I needed about three or four to feel completely better. But if anything, it was just a reminder to me that I can't be mad at myself for things not in my control. Such as the speed of my recovery. There are certain things you can't control or predict happening, but they happen, and the best thing to do is just to go with the flow, letting things just take their course. Eventually, I resigned myself to just focusing on rest without burdening myself with unnecessary stress and frustration...and eventually it all passed. I don't really have a name for what exactly happened to me, but I'm going to assume it was food poisoning, since I've never experienced anything like this before and it was quite the horrible experience. But of course, it sort of led into a more positive experience since...Oh, right, I'm in Japan.
It's all good :D
Now that my senses have returned to me, I've finally been able to actually take in my surroundings and everything, as now that my untimely sickness had subsided everything went from being a foggy haze to actually realizing that I'm in a new country. I could focus on the little things like trying out new foods and experiencing the unrelenting heat of the sun—since it has been a clean 90° F/33° C since I got here without a slip up, and it is super humid. Everyday when you walk outside, it feels like a gallon of water got poured on you, so I took it upon myself to purchase a small portable fan that has been keeping me cool throughout the day along with ensuring I have a bottle of water on me at all times. Walking from building to building sort of feels like going from safe haven to safe haven since that heat is a danger to those not used to it, which is my advice to all of you who come to Japan in the Summer. Even the tail end of the Summer.
Next, I am staying in Japan with a host family who was kind enough to allow me to live here with them for ultimate immersion in the culture. My host family has been beyond kind to me, and was honestly exactly what I needed after my sickness episode. It really healed my soul being in their care, since the Ishigaki family have been some of the kindest people I have ever had the pleasure of interacting with, living with, and just being a part of their lives so far. To say they have been treating me well is an understatement, since I feel entirely welcomed in every aspect imaginable. I've been doing my best with my limited Japanese but have been learning new words and phrases literally every day. Being surrounded by Japanese conversation, reading, and writing has been allowing me to add new words to my lexicon (even if I have to hear them over and over again to properly remember them), but yeah! Things have really been looking up for me with the support of my amazing host family, and with classes starting up next week, preparing for that has taken priority.
Since going to KUIS and the remaining orientations, I've been interacting with many different students from not only Japan but all over, which has honestly been psyching me up for this semester. So many new stories to hear about~! New experiences and perspectives to consider~! It's all really exciting, and although classes seems bit daunting at this point, I have to have faith in myself that it'll all be okay. Just gotta make sure to read that syllabus and understand what I'm getting myself into while preparing the proper materials. But after the stomach issues, I feel like it can only go up from here, so that's what I've been telling myself. I got this! I can do this and I shall! For now, that is the end of this TED Talk on things that have occurred within one WEEK of me being here in Japan. I will surely have plenty more stories since there is more food to eat, classes have to start, and more experiences are surely in store for me! Maybe I'm a magnet for random life events...But for now everyone, Bye bye, Adiós and じゃあね~!
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I am an extroverted, amicable and overall goofy nerd who loves throwing herself in the deep end and coming back to tell the tale of how I did it! I love anything about culture, history and languages. I try to write for your enjoyment~