Tessa – Nagoya Institute of Foreign Studies, Japan
Semester 2, 2016
Stepping off that aeroplane and arriving in Japan was one of the most exhilarating moments in my life. It was only my second time travelling overseas and my second time in Japan—but now I am here for half an entire year, as opposed to the short 11 days of my first trip. I felt a confused mixture of nervousness, excitement and exhaustion. This decision to move away from home and go live in another country has been the biggest of my life, and checking through the airport at 11pm one of my initial thoughts was, “Wow. This is it. I am going to be spending the next 5 months of my life in this country.” My second thought was “wait—where’s my luggage?” I was one of the last few people through customs, so I was expecting my suitcase to be amongst the few remaining on the carousel. But it wasn’t, it was nowhere to be seen. So beginning to worry, (okay, uhm, this isn’t off to a good start at all) I summoned the most of my (very limited) Japanese and made my way over to the help desk to ask about my missing luggage. Fortunately, the staff were incredibly helpful, kind and patient with my poor language skills as I filled out forms, answered questions and waited to see whether it had actually been sent across or not. Unfortunately, I had no way of contacting the Residential Assistants (RA’s) from my student accommodation who I knew were waiting for me on the other side of those doors just over there. The hour was nearing one, three hours after my plane had landed and I was beginning to panic—what if they had decided to leave without me as I hadn’t turned up?
But when I finally made it through it was to see one of the most welcoming sights; the best group of people waiting for me cheerfully, holding up a sign with my name on it and everything! They were so incredibly welcoming and friendly—even the other exchange students who probably just wanted to leave the airport but who had to stick around and wait for me as well! Then, half an hour later as we were getting ready to leave the airport, the lady who had helped me sign all of those documents came sprinting up to us to tell me out of breath that my luggage had been found! I followed her back through the airport to where a Japanese family were standing with my suitcase, which they had picked up by mistake. Apologising profusely they handed it back to me, but
honestly I didn’t mind at all, I was just glad to get it back and grateful that they had actually travelled back to the airport to return it, and incredibly thankful that the lady had ran all the way to catch up with me and let me know. Finally, it was time to jump into a minibus/taxi and head “home”—another crazy adventure in itself, as me and another Canadian guy sat in the back and talked about what on earth we had just gotten into and where on earth we were headed. At times it seemed as if the taxi driver didn’t know where we were headed either, as he made a few u-turns and took one or two wrong exits. But eventually we did arrive, where waiting outside was the rest of the RA’s who took our luggage for us and brought us inside where they stood around in a circle and introduced themselves to us. I’m not sure how to describe it, but it was such a surreal feeling to be standing in the middle of a room with a bunch of people you’ve just met at 2 am in the morning and to feel so welcome and not at all nervous. Finally, I was brought to my room and shown around the place before I promptly crashed onto my bed with the knowledge I had to be up in a couple of hours to start orientation. As I drifted off to sleep I thought to myself, “maybe it’s not off to a bad start at all.”