Saturday June 19, 2010
NARITA INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, Ueno, Japan – I guess it’s true what they say about life. Life really is made up for beginnings and ends. So ends this. I could write about our last morning and the emotions everyone was feeling. I could write about how we woke up for our last morning in Japan, ate breakfast, packed our belongings and left for the airport to eventually board our airplanes destined for separate destinations. Yet all of that information is relatively unimportant in the larger scheme of things. What is important is the beginning and the journey to this end. We arrived here as complete strangers in a land that was a complete mystery to us. A few people spoke some part of the language, but no one was completely fluent. We were strangers in a strange land, lost in a new culture, yet eager to learn as much as we possibly could. The two weeks that I spent in Japan flew by faster than I could have imagined, yet it also felt like a lifetime and I enjoyed every minute of it. Our Technos hosts were unbelievable and went out of their way to show us a great time. Then there was the tearful goodbye, but I didn’t look at it that way. While I was saying goodbye to this trip, I knew I would be starting another one soon. Although I am finished with this trip to Japan, I know that one day I will return. Will it be the same? Probably not, but I have a feeling that no matter how long it takes for me to return to Japan, when I do I will have a great time. As for this trip I met some new people, and some great friends from several different countries, friends that I hope will last a lifetime. I will take my time in Japan and all the memories associated with it and store them away and occasionally look back on them and smile or laugh, but all that will come in time….
So ends this…
Friday June 18, 2010
UENO, Japan – Today marks the final day of our extraordinary journey in Japan. Today began with a late start and about four hours of free time to do whatever we wanted. Vienna and I joined up with Phil to go and see the Sony building.
We boarded the train and traveled to Shinjuku and then transferred trains to travel to Ginza to visit the Sony Building. After all, what would a trip to Japan be if we did not stop at the Sony building?
When we arrived at the building we walked inside and were greeted with tons of promotional material advertising the World Cup as well as Sony’s new 3D televisions. We walked around the ten floors of the building looking at all of their new products. I tried out a 3D television, which was showing World Cup matches. When I tried on the 3D glasses it felt as though I was actually on the field with the players. I watched the television for a few minutes then continued on my way. My next stop was the music section of the store to try out a few pair of headphones. Then it was off to the cameras. All of the new merchandise was slick and the technology new and exciting. I met back up with Phil and Vienna and we went to the top floor of the building to watch the largest 3D television. The screen was about ten feet tall and had a projection display. This television was also showing soccer matches. All of the technology was amazing and this was definitely a great experience.
After the Sony store we left and jumped back on the train to head back to Higashi-Fuchu to meet up with everyone else for the closing ceremony of the trip. When we arrived in Fuchu we decided to grab something to eat. We stopped at a fast food restaurant. We ordered burgers and bubble tea, or a least that was the hope because we had a hard time conveying to the waiter what we wanted. The language barrier was tough here. We got our food and ran for the bus. We caught the train just in time and made it back to Higashi-Fuchu. While on the train we ate our meal. We unwrapped the burgers, which turned out to be a little different than burgers. They were more like meat loaf, but they were still really good.
When we arrived at Higashi-Fuchu we discovered that everyone had already left. We caught the next train and arrived at the school just in time. We met up with all of the international students and Technos Students in the cafeteria and we were told to sit down for the ceremony to begin.
Dr. Tanaka walked up to the podium to talk about the trip and thanked us for being such willing participants. Next he called each of us up individually to present us with certificates for successfully completing the program. When his speech was over, the emotions began. The Technos students came around asking for photos. The tears flowed as the goodbyes became more and more real and the realization set in that we would be leaving after two long weeks. It felt as though we had been there forever.
We, the twenty-six international students as well as our Technos College counterparts, began this journey in Japan as total strangers. After two short weeks it was though we had known each other our whole lives. This trip afforded me the opportunity to experience Japanese culture but left me memories and friends for a lifetime. There have already been discussions amongst the international students about having a reunion or even gathering together later this summer. Whether or not these plans ever come together, I know that I will one day return to Japan. During the farewell party at the end of Technos International Week, while everyone was hugging, saying their goodbyes and taking photos, Dr. Tanaka sat quietly to the side of the room smiling. From that smile I could tell that we had accomplished his goal for this program in transcending our personal boundaries and the pasts of our countries to become true friends and international allies.
They played a slide show of photos followed by a dance by the second year English students. When the dance ended there were a few more photos, but it was time for us to leave.
We boarded the bus, saying goodbye to Technos College for the last time and set off for Ueno. Ueno was a city right near the airport. The trip to Ueno lasted about two hours. Everyone exited the bus where we split up for dinner. I went out to dinner with Emily and Vienna. We made our way through the maze of shops looking for a restaurant that served Okonomiyaki. Annie joined us during dinner. We at takoyaki, which were fried balls filled with octopus meat. Emily and Vienna ate the Okonomiyaki while I had stir-fried soba noodles.
When we finished dinner we made out way back to the bus. The bus traveled toward the airport and our hotel. Tonight we were staying at the Narita Port Hotel. This hotel was extremely nice and had much bigger rooms, more like hotel rooms here in the USA. I was again rooming with Lucas, which was great. Everyone spent the night in the hotel hanging out and enjoying our last time here. We watched the USA world cup game and then just socialized. This was the last time that we would be seeing some of our new friends as people were leaving at all different times during the morning to head home. Slowly the night wound down and people went to bed to sleep with wonderful memories.