Let me recollect my past 32 hours… my journey began in the
wee hours of the morning, with a 3:30 AM departure from my Centre
College stomping grounds. The thought of leaving what I call “home”
was unsettling, with all my friends being there and the memories
that were made there. But at the same time, an experience of a lifetime
awaited me. I’ll be studying in Japan
for the next four months and unlike most other study abroad trips
at Centre, I’m the only person on this trip, giving me the
opportunity to truly make this my abroad experience. Anyway,
I said my final goodbyes, dropped my goodbye notes in the mail,
and then two of my fraternity brothers escorted me to the airport.
Upon arrival at the airport I met my mother
who had brought along some last minute items, including snacks.
I knew that
these “American snacks” could be the last familiar foods
I would eat before facing an array of exotic Japanese cuisine, so
I cherished them dearly. After a few minutes with mom, I was off
to face the very thorough security screening. I passed with flying
colors and headed to my gate. En route I had one thing on my mind
– SARS. A severe and mysterious form of pneumonia, SARS had
swept across China like the plague and was now in several Asian
countries, including Japan. Going to Japan was obviously a risk,
but I went with my gut and decided to go.
In what seemed like no time at all I arrived in Atlanta, and from
here I would catch a connecting flight that would take me all the
way to Tokyo. This was to be my first international flight and I
was excited; however, the thought of 14 hours on airplane still
did not have me jumping for joy. At the recommendation of a good
friend, I brought along Herman Hesse’s Siddhartha
to read along the way. He told me that the journey described in
the book might provide some insight for my journey for the next
several months. Reading helped the time pass by and I did find my
friend’s sentiments to be true.