There is some point where we've all thought about it. What if there's a group chat with everyone except me? What if there's a party going on that only I wasn't invited to? What if everyone has plans this weekend except me? If you've never felt FOMO, then I and the other 98% of the world really envy you. But thoughts of FOMO is something I'm quite sure most people can relate to.
Well, my FOMO dreams came true recently. During the weekend of October 20-21, we had a 5-day weekend because of the annual school culture festival. Thursday and Friday were off so that clubs could prepare for the festival, with the following Monday being reserved for clubs to clean up their messes. Many people at IES Abroad wanted to take advantage of that 5-day weekend to travel Japan, or even go to other countries like Taiwan or Vietnam. Though, I didn't know about it until about the week before.
"Wait, you didn't know?" The friend of mine who first told me about it was surprised I hadn't heard of it at all. It clearly seemed to be more of an "everybody thought I already knew" kind of situation, rather than a "nobody wanted me to come along" type of situation. I was torn on whether I should scramble to make plans with some friends, or whether I'd rather go to the school festival. I made some tentative plans, but they fell through, so in the end, I ended up going to the festival anyway.
Preparing for the festival
On campus, I'm in a club called what I guess could be translated as the "Makuhari Urban Center Excitement Promotion Research Student Club" (幕張新都心賑わい作り研究学生会). The gist of the club is that members get involved in local events happening in Makuhari, the neighborhood around the university. Yet, despite the extravagantly long name, we don't actually do very much. When I met on Thursday to help out with preparing the club's booth, it was my first time meeting most of the 20ish active members.
The club leaders decided that our booth for the festival would be selling okonomiyaki skewers (お好み焼き串), a pancake-like Japanese food that is usually served with lots of toppings and sauce. Thursday and Friday were spent on preparing for the festival, doing things like buying necessary items and creating signs and flyers for the booth.
It was fun getting to know all of the club members—most were majoring in Indonesian, and were already friends with each other from class. I helped out with designing the large signs for our booth, and I even made a little poster.
In time, everything was ready for the festival, which was on Saturday and Sunday. Since Saturday was Shabbat, I didn't go to the the first day of the festival, but I got there bright and early on Sunday.
The day of the festival
The festival itself started at around 10 and ended at around 5. I got there at 9ish to help set up the tent and get things ready for business.
Everyone helping run the booth was either in the "kitchen" or at the desk. My job was at the desk, calling people's numbers and handing them their food, while someone else handled the orders and the cash register.
I worked from 10 to 1, and although I was just doing the same thing over and over, it was a lot of fun. When no customers were around, everyone in the booth would shout in the general direction of the crowds, hoping to attract some customers.
The festival wasn't only for students. All kinds of people came to the festival, sometimes with their significant others or families. Although not many IES Abroad people were at the festival, I ran into a lot of KUIS friends while I was running the booth, which was really fun.
After 1, I decided to spend the rest of the afternoon exploring the festival. There were all kinds of things going on. There were a whole bunch of other booths selling all kinds of food and drinks, and a huge stage with live music going on constantly. There were even a few people cosplaying as anime characters.
There was even someone dressed up as Chiiba-kun, the mascot for Chiba prefecture. I wasn't sure why, but it was cute so I got a picture.
There were also a lot of dances going on by the field. A friend of mine who's in the hula dance club had a dance that I really wanted to see live but unfortunately missed. We got a cool picture though.
The tea ceremony club were also performing traditional Japanese tea ceremony, and offered tickets for a few hundred yen. I got to see their last performance of the day. I'd never seen tea ceremony before, but I really enjoyed it.
They led us, a group of about 10 people, into a washitsu, a traditional Japanese-style room, where we sat and watched a member of the club perform the ritual. I was afraid we would have to sit in seiza the whole time, but fortunately, they let us relax as soon as the ceremony started. That didn't stop me from trying to hold it as long as I could, though. I did break my previous record, but despite my efforts, I gave up after about 20 minutes. I didn't get any pictures, but it was a great experience, and the tea tasted good too.
After the tea ceremony, however, the festival was almost over. I went back to the tent to help my club clean up.
Our okonomiyaki booth was a huge success. We completely sold out by the early afternoon, and made hundreds of dollars. So to put that money to good use, we had an afterparty.
When we were done cleaning up, the remaining 8 of us went into central Makuhari to go to a nice restaurant. The sun had set at this point, and it was very beautiful out.
In one of the tall office buildings, there was a top floor with a few restaurants. We went to one of those. Though it seemed like a high-class restaurant, it had a lot of figures of anime characters by the entrance, which felt somewhat out of place. However, it was about 24 floors up, so the view was fantastic.
It was an interesting restaurantvery different to the kind I'm used to in the states. Instead of ordering food, everyone paid a set fee. Then they just kept bringing large plates of food that everyone could take a piece of. What you could order, though, were drinks, but it was all-you-can-drink, so the drinks were effectively free.
I was a little worried about what I could or couldn't eat, but luckily enough they served a lot of sashimi, so I was able to eat my fill. And thanks to the free drinks, I enjoyed some good sake and plum wine as well.
It really was a good time. We stayed there for a while, talking, drinking, and watching a replay of today's baseball game. And then after a while, we went home. I had spent all day doing good things with good people, and I felt satisfied.
So in the end, I might not have been able to go to Kansai or Hokkaido or Okinawa or wherever everyone else was going. But I got to have such a fun time at the school festival, and do something that I won't have the chance to do ever again. After all, I can always go on a tour later, but this is my last year in school ever. What can I do now? And what will I never be able to do again?
I miss out on a lot of things. I often feel out of the loop, and I have tons of regrets. But as I headed home that night, I felt that just this one time, I was not the one who was missing out.
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Hey, my name is Zev. I'm a current senior at Brandeis University from Oakland, California. This fall, I'll be spending a semester in Japan! I love drawing, playing games, web development, skiing, singing, and learning languages.