February 26 – Travel Day
On Tuesday morning the highly-anticipated 2015 Japan Field Academy kicked off with a collective vigor and venturesome spirit not to be outdone. The group left from the Ross Upper School campus at roughly 4:00 a.m.. Though fatigued after nearly 20 hours of flying, the students hit the Nagoya ground almost running – their eyes reawakened and their pocket cameras fully charged, they were a group excited to simply to finally be in Japan.
Yet, there has been a lot of preparation to be thankful for on this front. Each student was provided a travelling backpack with instructions to pack lightly. Not only would they be responsible for shouldering the entirety of their bag’s weight during each of the 16 days in Japan, but the bags would no doubt accumulate, either with snacks, gifts, or any sort of Oriental tchotchkes they never knew they needed.
And of course, there’s the language. We can’t be in Japan and not learn any Japanese. Mami Takeda, the lead chaperone, has started the spry group off with some essential survival Japanese phrases. We began with phrases like ‘hello,’ ‘good morning,’ and ‘good-bye’ (こんにちは – konnichi wa、おはようございます – ohayō gozaimasu、and さようなら – sayounara, respectively). Along the way we have included ‘excuse me’ and ‘thank you’ (すみません – sumimasen、ありがとうございます – arigatou gozaimasu). And the language instruction continues to grow as the students ask more questions that arise with new experiences and situations.
When we first checked into the hotel the first night in Nagoya (just a couple of blocks from the train station), we were all looking forward to a good night sleep. Some did just that, wanting to fully recharge for the next day. Some were still up and about and enjoyed a quick late-night run to the nearest convenience store – a hallmark of contemporary Japanese snacks and culinary curios.
And after returning to their rooms, the long travel time caught up with them and they were out – looking forward to the next day and the beginning of their Japanese trek adventure.