Greetings from Japan!
It has been a crazy couple of days but the most important thing is that I made it to the dorm safe and sound! – Trust me – this was NOT an easy task. I’ve attempted to chronicle most of my adventures the past few days through use of my video camera, the results of which
I am currently working on importing/uploading to my Youtube channel. I have FINISHED uploading to my youtube channel. So if you happen to be interested in seeing my tired/sweaty face talk about how tired and sweaty and excited I am to be in Tokyo at long last then you can click: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PX9dRK10a70
But I also thought I’d provide you with a written narrative of my adventures so far.
1. The 13.5 Hour Plane Ride.
In case anyone ever asks you if you want to ride a plane for 13 hours (or really more than 8 hours) say NO and walk quickly/run far, far away. Because being in a metal tube with no light, god awful food (if we can even call it food – to be honest it had a taste more similar to plastic), and a creepy 35 year old guy sitting next to you, whose first question happened to be “Are you traveling alone?” is definitely an experience that, given a choice, I never want to relive. EVER. Again.
Other than that the plane ride was great.
2. Narita Airport.
I had assumed that Narita Airport would be one of the nicest and most modern airports that I’ve ever been in. Alas I was very wrong. It wasn’t so much that it was a terrible airport – from what I gathered the layout was very basic and helpful to foreigners – the problem was how hot and crowded it was! From the moment I walked off the plane everything became humid and sticky and as soon as I was through Immigration there were so many people that I could hardly walk anywhere. Ugh. With the amount of luggage I was lugging behind me it was definitely not the most welcoming scene I could have imagined. Although, in defense of the hospitality of the Japanese, they were very helpful at showing me where I needed to go. So that was nice.
3. The N’EX Train.
The train ride partly made up for the airport experience – although I was very worried that somehow I had gotten on the wrong train… BUT everything worked out just fine. It was a very smooth and gentle train ride and there was even a little trolley woman (think Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone) who came around selling treats and drinks. I didn’t actually get on the train until close to 7:00pm – it took a while to get through the airport – but it didn’t take too long for the train to arrive as Musashikosugi station. Hurray!
4. Richmond Premier Hotel.
I was lucky that I could see the hotel as soon as I exited the train station because otherwise I’m worried that I would have quickly become very, very lost. Thankfully though, the hotel was right around the corner and the front desk workers spoke English very well. If you’re curious about how the hotel looked then you’ll have to check out my vlog! It was so wonderful to have a place to stay the night and not have to worry about anything for a while. Bleh. I was so tired – I went to sleep almost as soon as I got to the hotel. Of course I woke up around 12am because of jet lag but after taking two melatonin I conked right out until my alarm woke me up at 7am the next morning.
And so begins day 2…
I wish I could tell you what I ate for breakfast but I had/have no idea. I sort of just put food onto my plate and ate it – although they did have a cappuccino machine so I did enjoy the use of that particular item. Beyond that there were some sort of (vinegar?) noodles, miso soup, okra? and something else of some sort. I tried to eat the sausage and eggs (clearly meant for westerners) but alas they were so watery. I just couldn’t stomach them down!
5. Tsunashima Station? Anyone?
After leaving the hotel I walked back to the train station and attempted to get to Tsunashima Station but I was not on the correct train line. So I got off at Yokohama (two train stops down from where I was) and then had to go about 3 levels down to get on the Tokyu line (which is red in case you ever needed to know) and then go about 4 small steps back the way I had come so that I could finally arrive at the correct train station.
I did have to ask for help to locate the Tokyu/Tokyo line because the subway stations here have so many different levels to them. From what I remember of NewYork City there is, for the most part I think, only one level for you to get on the train but in Tokyo your train may be on the 5th floor down or the 2nd, depending on what line you need to get on. Most of the time they list the train stations and directions in Romanji (roman characters) but almost everything here in is in Kanji/Hiragara/Katakana (japanese characters), which makes it very easy to get lost! So in the event that you don’t know where you are make sure you look for the blue “Tourist Information” centers!
6. Doko Tsunashima Student Dormitory!?!?!
After finally managing to get off at the correct train station I realized that, upon exiting the station, I had no idea where my dormitory was or how I could possibly find it. Although I had attempted to google this information I was very unsure on how useful it was and nothing looked familiar in comparison to the google maps I had researched. So I sort of just set off looking for an apartment building… (Genius idea, I know.) I did come across some posh looking apartments that read Tsunashima Apartments so I thought I would ask the security guard if he knew where the Keio University students were supposed to go. Unfortunately this particularly security guard did not speak one, single word of English. But he seemed very helpful and together (after asking several people if they did speak English) we managed to find a young, Japanese guy who spoke English quite well. I knew as soon as he asked me “Hey, what’s up?” that he would be able to translate for me!
And so begins part two of trying to find my dormitory. The nice, young Japanese guy, whose name I later found out was Yoshi-san, first asked me what I was looking for and I tried to tell him that I was looking for the Tsunashima student dormitory for Keio University. He didn’t quite understand my english so I showed him an email that said “Keio University” so that he would be able to understand my request. At first he thought I was looking for the school but I remembered a bit of Japanese and told him that it was a school “apartment”. After looking something up on his phone, Yoshi-san told me to follow him and we went to what looked like a public safety or information center. I had an address written down (from Google, mind you) for the dormitory but somehow the address was wrong as the man who worked at this office couldn’t make any sense of it. He had a big map of the area and a magnifying glass – this guy clearly meant business although again he didn’t speak any English so I had to rely on Yoshi-san to translate for me. Since we clearly were not getting anywhere with the address I typed “Tsunashima Student Dormitory for Keio University Students” into my phone (I had no internet but I thought the typed-out words might help Yoshi-san understand). Thankfully they did! Yoshi-san quickly began talking to the information guy who jumped on the phone and started calling someone. Eventually I was handed the phone and on the other line, thank goodness, was the housing director for Keio University. I told her to give the address to the official man, who wrote it down carefully, and then looked it up on his map – all the while talking to Yoshi-san.
Again, Yoshi-san told me to follow him (at this point I breathed a huge sigh of relief that he seemed to be willing to show me the way to my dorm to make sure that I wouldn’t become lost again) and we walked about 6-7 min to my dorm. On the way I found out his name and that he was 20 years old and a student at some sort of university around here (I couldn’t understand the name of the school though). Yoshi-san even helped me carry my luggage and we finally made it to the dormitory! I thanked him profusely as he dropped me off and continued on his way – I don’t think I would have ever found this place had it not been for him! I’ll probably never meet Yoshi-san again but I wish him the best of luck with whatever he does in life, he completely saved me from being helplessly and hopelessly lost!
7. Checking IN.
So, 2 hours later I finally checked in to my dorm. I’ll have to give you guys a tour in a little bit…But for the rest of the day I fell promptly asleep and only woke up at midnight before falling back asleep, completely exhausted by jet lag.
I’ll continue the rest of my narrative about today (currently day 3/Saturday September 7th) in a later post. All you need to know right now, dear family and friends, is that I am safe and sound and very happy to finally have internet again!
When traveling abroad you should
probably know the language of the country
you’ll be staying in.