Cultural Adjustment, Living Abroad, Preparing for Study Abroad, Student Life Abroad

An Unexpected Welcome

May 2, 2016

First of all,

Thank You Gilman Scholarship for making my dream filled with possibilities. I have been waiting for 8 years since the last time I came to Japan in 2008 to revisit my dream. Something was missing back there and it feels necessary for me to re-discover the missing part. Still, it is hard to believe that my feet are stepping in Japan. Without Gilman Scholarship, perhaps I would need to wait longer to revisit my dream.

And of course, Thank You to Office of International Program San Francisco State University (Study Abroad Coordinators) for giving me this rare opportunity that will shape my personal, my academic, and my professional stance.

And lastly, Thank You to my family, professors, and friends who keep supporting me to follow my dream up until now.

I owe you.

The night rose at March 16, the day I arrived in Tokyo at 19:20. I got off from the plane first, then headed to immigration office to have my residence card issued immediately, then took all my suitcases, and finally stuck in arrival for hours. I knew how to get out from the plane, yet did not know how to get out from Narita Airport.

Taxis in airport were available yet quite expensive. So I did not take it – I wanted to save money. Buses were available but I did not know exactly where to go in Tokyo – and it was quite expensive too. So I did not take it. To make it worse, I did not book a hotel room or asked my friend to stay overnight beforehand. Therefore, I completely had no idea where to go and did not have a place to stay until March 18 – the day it was official for me to move in to the room I reserved on Airbnb. I felt lost inside yet my mind calmed me down like nothing seriously happened.

As luck would have it, I found a public WiFi from my laptop so that I could connect to the Internet and log in my Facebook, telling to all my friends in Tokyo through messages that I have arrived in Tokyo safely. Good Lord must be good to me, one of my friends responded. He called me through Facebook, but could not hear well and we hung up. We called once again, still, could not hear each other well, we hung up. Again, and again. I realized the WiFi was not cooperating with me.

Couple minutes later, a public announcement was made in the airport, calling my name – with perfect pronunciation – and asking me to come to the information table. I came down to the table, and the lady gave me a phone number that I need to call to. She clarified that my friend – who responded me from Facebook message – actually called the airport, left his phone number to this lady to give it to me so that I could call him. Luckily, I had some of my US Dollar exchanged to Japanese Yen and headed to booth phone right away. I called my friend and yay! I could hear clearly everything he said to me, telling me to take a train (Keisei Narita Skyliner or whatever it is called) and meet up at Nippori Station – it is about one hour trip. “Okay, I’ll see you there” was the only sentence I could say to him before I hung up as my body feel with excitement to, at least, get out from the airport.

After the call, I followed all signs to Nippori-bound train, as I was confident enough to be in the right path. The station was quite empty and it was still 21:00. Minutes later, the train arrived to pick the passengers up, I hopped in.

Arrived at Nippori station around 22:30, I headed to exit gateway, and someone called my name from behind. It was my friend, who actually had been waiting me in the station for 3 hours. It was him who responded my messages. It was him who gave me his phone numbers to call. It was him who guided me to Nippori station. Yet, most importantly, it was him who saved my life. The rest of the night, we headed for dinner, wandered around the district of Nakano, and stayed in his place for two nights. Without his help, I would have gone to a different path by my own. I owe him beers.

The morning after my arrival, without a serious jet-lag and sleep, I began the adventure to rediscover the missing part.


Lessons from my story:

If you are planning to fly to a country where you know someone is living there, let the them know days prior departure so that they can pick you up in case you need a company to get out from the airport. However, if you don’t know anyone in the country you are flying to, book a hostel prior the day of your arrival.

Download Google Maps. Google Maps is extremely useful as the app can help you the best way to reach your desired destination, especially when you desperately need a public transportation to go somewhere. As far as I understand, Google Maps works anywhere (as long as you have WiFi).

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