I am going to Tokyo
It still doesn’t sound right in my head. I just finished my first year of college after a stressful pair of finals weeks, and all of a sudden I’m not only packing to move out of my little ol’ dorm room, but also to fly halfway around the world. Every LINC class got me more and more excited about the Land of the Rising Sun, and then finals came around and naturally made me forget about it. Now that the time is here, I still don’t feel like it’s happening, despite the fact that I’ve gone to the bank and gotten a stack of yen, packed my bags and familiarized myself with the itinerary. In all honesty it probably won’t until I step out into the airport at Tokyo.
Having never left the United States before, travel of this degree is a foreign (pun intended) concept to me. Outside of California I’ve only been to Hawaii, Florida, Utah, and Nevada, so the fact that English won’t be the official language around me for the first time is definitely going to take some getting used to. Let’s not forget the jet lag of a 16-hour time difference. Nevertheless, the culture shock will be a welcome one. I’m ready to be amazed by this country and its people after hearing so much about it all: the sights, the sounds, the food (did I mention I’m a sucker for seafood and sushi?), and everything else that is cliché. Seeing the differences between the way the city and its business works from that of American ones will be enlightening to say the least. I’ll be taking it in with open eyes and an open mind.
Where did the time go?! [Micaela Alvarez]
It seems like just yesterday I was unpacking all of things to my new dorm. Now I’m packing everything back up again and getting ready to go to Japan! Is this a dream? Oh wait, finals. Yup, this is real life.
Actually, I have not even started packing my suitcase for the trip, but I have started putting music in my ipod. This is going to be a very long trip and I need my music. I also went shopping for some business attire earlier this week. I’m currently not sure what to expect in Japan, but I am ready for anything it throws at me. I am so excited you guys.
I will be posting many pictures and possibly even videos so keep a look out for my posts! :D
Welcome to the 2013 LINC Tokyo blog! -Kim
Hi everyone! I’m Kim, and I am one of four bloggers for the 2013 LINC Tokyo trip! Please be sure to check out their blogs as well, they’re all going to be really cool. Right now we are currently packing and studying for finals, which is kind of stressful and hectic, but that means we are that much closer to the trip and summer! :)
In preparation for our trip we learned a lot about Japanese culture, history, and traditions. We also learned a little bit of Japanese, which I am kind of nervous to use as I hope that I use it correctly. I am really excited about our company visits and food! I will be on the lookout for takoyaki, which is a octopus and vegetable snack rolled into a ball (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Takoyaki).
As our departure date inches closer, I am continually getting more and more excited and once we actually touch down in Tokyo I will be doing a series of video blogs called “Tokyo Time with Kim” and you all will be able to experience the unique aspects of Japan with me! :) I hope you will join me on this adventure and thank you for checking out our blog! Here’s to new experiences and memories! As always Fight On!! :)
It was definitely a new experience. From touring companies to trying to navigate the subway system to figuring out the money, we were so busy that the week went by like a blur. I had a lot of fun and now I’m just gonna post some advice/thoughts for the people who go on next year’s LINC Tokyo trip.
- Don’t wear high heeled shoes. Just don’t. So much walking.
- Start buying souvenirs early, so you don’t have to spend Saturday frantically buying gifts for everyone you know.
- Make friends with the local university students- they know the best places to go for food and fun.
- Actually pay attention to the language lessons they give in class. Even a little knowledge of Japanese helps a lot.
- Don’t walk and eat at the same time. They disapprove of that for some reason.
- Bring an umbrella.
- Stop every now and then to appreciate the fact that you’re in Tokyo, Japan.
- Wear comfortable clothes on the plane and bring stuff to entertain you. 11 hours is a loooooong time.
- Be open to new friendships. You probably won’t know your classmates very well at the beginning of the trip, but by the end you’ll have made some great new friends.
Looking Back… Cindy Le
Now that the trip is over and I’ve had some time to reflect on everything, I think the biggest impact this trip had on me was in terms of relationships and careers. Initially when the trip started, I kind of just stuck with my roommate and everyone else stuck with their cliques as well. However, as the trip wore on, everyone started intermingling more and by the last night, we all ended up going out together, which was really nice.
Additionally, this trip has taught me to really get out of my comfort zone and put myself out there and try to get to know new people. In terms of careers, it looks like a lot of Japanese companies are actually looking to hire foreigners and English speakers now as opposed to their past Japanese exclusive policy. However, the market is extremely competitive here, with people applying online for around 60 jobs, interviewing for maybe half and then following up with half of that and so on and so on.
I feel like Japan is the perfect mix of urbanized and traditional as well as fast-paced yet not fast-paced at the same time. I can really see myself taking the subway to work in the city in the morning and then taking the subway back out to a more traditional city to my home. Even though the subways are extremely crowded during rush hour, everyone is so calm and orderly, walking in single file lines on their respective sides according to the direction you are going in. It’s fast-paced but not crazy and chaotic like the big cities in the US like New York.
I feel like this trip has really changed my perspectives on Japan and working internationally. I only moved once as a kid and so transitioning to college was rough for me and I wasn’t sure how I well I would be able to cope with such a drastic change. But this trip really made me realize how well I can adapt to everything. It’s a lot of observing and self teaching, such as the walking on the left side of the sidewalk and following the arrows on the ground in the subway stations, etc.
I really think that this trip has influenced what my future career plans may be and I feel that if you have the chance to go on any LINC trips, you should really consider it. Apply for the program and apply for the scholarships and make it work! Initially I wasn’t going to apply because I couldn’t afford it but I got a partial scholarship and got a job in order to pay for the rest and for spending money.
I hope this blog helped give you an idea of the trip and I guess feel free to email the LINC coordinators, if you have any specific questions for me, maybe they could forward it along? Until then, FIGHT ON!!!
Update from the Airport (By: Megan Niquette)
So I already wrote this post once and then the dumb airport wifi went out and my post was lost, so forgive me if I seem like I’m being brief. Basically, here are things I liked and disliked about Tokyo:
- The Toilets- Japanese toilets are fancy. They have bidets and heated seats and some of them play music.
- The Kindness- Japanese people (in my experience) are happy to help and often go above and beyond the call of duty. For example, Jorge and I were lost and trying to find our way to Harajuku (a shopping hotspot in Tokyo) and we asked a couple what train we should take. Not only did they tell us where to go, they then walked us there and when it came time to pay for our tickets, the woman pulled out her wallet as if she was going to pay for us. (We didn’t let her, of course.)
- The Language Barrier- This is a weird one, but it’s kind of liberating not being understood. It was a unique challenge to communicate our desires and questions using our limited Japanese and gestures.
- The Subways- Japanese subways are among the world’s most complicated (and the world’s most crowded.) People are literally pressed up against you as you ride a swaying train. It is very unpleasant and hot.
- The Fish- I don’t eat fish. Fish features heavily into Japanese cuisine. ‘Nuff said.
- The Prices- Compared to the U.S., prices in Japan are high. I spent $500 on food and souvenirs alone. (And two meals each day were provided.)
So, all in all, a good trip. :) I’ll do another post once I get back, but now I have to prepare emotionally for a 10-hour flight.
Leaving for Airport Soon- Cindy Le
I honestly cannot believe that the trip is over already. Everything went by so quickly, it’s all still such a blur to me even now. But maybe that has something to do with the all nighter we all pulled last night to go exploring around Tokyo. Just a heads up, subways close at midnight and don’t reopen until 5am so make sure you plan for that if you decide to take the subway anywhere late at night.
The company visits were all very informative and the speakers really focused on allowing us to ask questions which was nice. We actually ended up having a lot more free time than I had expected and I got to visit Harajuku, Shibuya, Roppongi, Kappabashi- kitchenware and bought a knife for my mom, Asakusa-temple and a festival was in town that day too so it was super crazy, Kamakura- very country and traditional Japanese, my favorite town we visited. There were a ton of other places too but I honestly cannot remember all of their names.
We had an awesome tour guide named Keiko-san who told us where we should go and gave us subway directions. She was so nice, she even came on our free day when she didn’t have to, just to help give us recommendations of where to go and everything. It just goes to show how dedicated and courteous people are here in Japan.
Anyways, we have to check out now so I will continue this another time when my brain is more functional and I can really reflect on everything.
Foooooood. (By: Megan Niquette)
I’m what you’d call a picky eater. I don’t eat meat or seafood, and there are some things I just won’t try based solely on their appearance. So of course I was a bit concerned about what I’d find myself eating when I arrived in Tokyo. Well, I have good news for you other picky eaters out there: Tokyo is picky-eater friendly!
Rice. Everyone likes rice. And they have lots of it here. I’ve also found that many places have steamed vegetables in place of sushi if you explain to them that you have food restrictions. (Plus, the hotel has an American breakfast buffet, so I start off every day with a good solid meal that I can be confident of the ingredients in.) In addition, the Japanese have a number of the same snack foods as we do in the United States. Pringles, M&Ms, and Pocky are all offered for sale at the convenience store downstairs in our hotel.
Okay, so that’s food. It’s almost 2 in the morning here so I’m going to go to bed, but I look forward to blogging more once I’ve slept.
Finally here!! -Cindy Le
Let me start from the beginning with the flight. Honestly, for those of us who are not use to traveling and flying for 10+ hours, the flight was kind of brutal. We flew direct from LAX to Narita airport in Japan. Although the flight attendants were very friendly, Singapore Airlines, and did their best to make the flight as bearable as possible, my back is still in knots from sitting upright for so long. I was obsessively checking the flight information to see how much longer it would be until we landed. I was also not looking forward to the drive back to the hotel since Narita airport is a bit “in the middle of nowhere” as my friend put it. But everything was worth it once we got to the hotel. The Keio Plaza Hotel was amazing. The first thing I did was sprawl myself across the bed.
So fast-forward now to day 2 of our trip. So far we have heard from the American Chamber of Commerce, Newport, and Uniqlo. What you will notice is that the American companies will lead a sort of discussion while the Japanese companies will do more of a presentation with a small Q&A at the end.
Anyways, I have officially given myself a separate budget for food here since it’s slightly expensive, but so worth it. The food is amazing! There are some rather different things, but my advice would be to not be afraid to try something new. We did a lot of sightseeing on our half day tour the first day and we literally ran into vending machines everywhere, so I attached some pictures. Also, one night when we had free time, we went walking around nearby our hotel and found the famous “love” figure so I couldn’t help having a picture with it! Just make the most of the time you have here. No matter how tired you are, remember, “you can sleep when you’re dead!”
Last push before Tokyo! - Cindy Le
I cannot even put into words how excited I am for this trip! (This is a picture of the Keio Plaza Hotel we will be staying in for our LINC trip) I have never been to Japan before, but growing up in Hawaii where there is so much Japanese influence and so many lost Japanese tourists asking me for directions, it will be a nice change of pace to be the lost tourist asking them for directions. I already had a lot of background knowledge about Japan and two years of language back in high school prior to this class, so a lot of the stuff we learned was basic recap for me. Additionally, I am also currently taking HIST-266: Business in East Asia, so that gave me a lot much more depth and berth than I ever expected to learn. But honestly, even without all my background knowledge and my other history class to supplement the material taught in this class, I would still feel very prepared for my trip, so don’t worry about being overwhelmed.
I think the other reason why I am really looking forward to this trip is because of the timing. Unlike some other the other LINC trips, this trip occurs during the summer time, right after finals. I specifically looked for LINC trips during the summer instead of during spring break because I knew it would be so much more hectic during spring break. Think about it, after a week long trip in another country half way around the world, you have to come back and do all your spring break homework and possibly study for upcoming midterms. (Realistically, you are not going to be doing homework on your trip so don’t try to rationalize that). Don’t get me wrong though, going during the summer has some disadvantages as well. For example, for me personally, not only will I be packing for my Tokyo trip, but I will also have to pack my things to bring home to Hawaii as well as figure out what I am going to leave in storage here. Now the thing that complicates everything for me is the fact that I have a final on the last day from 2-4pm and I need to check out of my dorm by 5pm. I can only imagine how hectic and frantic I will be when that day rolls around, but I think I will just deal with it when it comes, considering the fact that I have to get through four finals before that. I think I will most likely end up procrastinating on my finals some time later this week and start packing even though my plan was to not touch packing until I feel prepared for all my finals. I guess I’m just going to have to keep telling myself that I’ll be in Japan in less than two weeks, so everything will be worth it in the end, but until then, finals week has officially arrived, so let the cramming and procrastination begin (:<