The Rain Before the Bloom – Week 1


There is something very beautiful about the rain that captivates the attention of the beholder. Is it the subtle charm that comes from the glistening rain drops? Is it the way the rain creates a musical rhythm every time it hits an item in sight?

For me it is the hidden symbolism of the simple, yet mysterious weather that draws me into the rain. Growing up I have always known rain to be the symbol of rebirth and it becomes more ironic for this particular journey.

Now the semester in Nagoya has not started yet, but I have had the, unintentional, pleasure of starting this adventure off on an interesting start. For starters, when I first entered the country on March 29 I ran into my first minor hiccup. Before making my final journey to Nagoya I had to wait a whole day in the Haneda airport, so I took it upon myself to book a hotel room in the airport thinking that I would be able to save time and energy for the next day’s travel. Which to my own credit it should have gone smoothly in theory because it was in the same airport that I was arriving into from Hawai’i.

However, that could not be further from the truth because Haneda has three big terminals that are spread out from one another. At that moment I was at terminal 3 since I was coming from an international flight and the hotel was not in that same terminal. But I did not see that as an issue since I was willing to take a bus to whichever terminal the hotel was located in. So I opened Google Maps and from what it had looked like it seemed as though it was in terminal 1 and then I began my journey to terminal 1.

Everything was going fine since I was able to use the airport’s free shuttle service, but then I was in for a huge surprise once I got to terminal 1. When I looked at the map of terminal 1 I was surprised to see that the hotel was also not in this particular terminal. Puzzled by the notion I took to Google Maps once more and saw where my mistake had landed me.

When I was looking at the map originally I did not zoom in to see the clear view of the hotel, just enough to see the pinpoint of the hotel and what was around said pinpoint. Now by not zooming in I only saw the words terminal 1 and thought that is where the hotel is located. But if I had zoomed in more I would have seen that instead of getting off at terminal 1 I should have stayed on the bus longer to get off at terminal 2.

Embarrassed by the mistake I looked around to see the best way for me to get from terminal 1 to terminal 2. At this point of the trip a regular person would have just gone back for the free shuttle and taken it all the way to terminal 2. But I was operating on less than 2 hours of sleep at this point so I did not think of that and instead I decided to walk the long underground passageway from terminal 1 to terminal 2.

Which on any given day I would have done without a struggle, but I was walking that long hallway with one big carry-on, a backpack, and two very heavy suitcases. And to make matters even worse one of the suitcases’ wheels were broken. During this fiasco all I could think about was: did I make a mistake studying abroad?

It may seem dramatic from an outsider’s point of view, but in that moment it was all that I could think of. I have always been prideful about my abilities to go with ease through most things in life. Some of the examples included school, homework, and many other things especially with using Google Maps. It seemed fairly simple and because it is a tool I use often I thought I would have no problem getting to places. However, if I could not simply navigate through an airport how was I suppose to fair well with studying abroad?

Once I got to the hotel, which took me two hours to get to, I mentally checked out for the day and then the start of a new day began. Fortunately, the days that followed were relatively calm except for almost getting lost again in the Chubu Centrair International Airport. But even with the calmness of the past few days those looming doubts still haunted my brain. And as time went on it grew bigger and bigger and bigger, almost consuming my entire being.

That was until a few moments ago when the rain began to pour. As aforementioned I grew up with the notion that the rain symbolizes rebirth and considering that starting this week is orientation week this rain was not to be ignored. With this rain that I see outside of my room I knew that I had to rewire my negative mindset to not hold me back from the opportunities that lie right in front of me.

The doubts and the fears are not going to go away any time soon, do not get me wrong, but just having that reassuring sign that might seem ridiculous to some weirdly cheered me up. It is almost as if there is someone saying that it is okay to be fearful of decisions, but there is more to come if you so choose to let it. So, from here on out I am choosing to see this opportunity to transform my pessimistic thoughts to thoughts of optimism. Though it may be slower than I had initially thought, it is better to start now than to regret it later down the line. And who knows maybe after the rain will result in beautiful flowers like the cherry blossoms along the roads.

With all of that being said it is still helpful to leave some tips to help anyone learn from my mistakes.

First and foremost, double check the terminal number for where you may need to go whether it be for a hotel room or a flight. Whether you ask the information desk or check Google Maps just be aware of where you need to be next. That way you can avoid exploring other terminals in the process and just go straight to the one you need to be on time.

Second, if you are using Google Maps make sure you zoom in to see the full picture. It sounds like it is self explanatory, but when travel fatigue or jet lag sets in, common sense will go flying out of the window. So be sure to see the entire area that surrounds the pinpoint on the map so you are confident in where you are going.

Third, study key words related to the airport if you are studying abroad in a country where English is not the native language to the point of memorization. My Japanese skills are not the worst by any means, but when I go into panic mode my brain seems to delete all prior knowledge. So before making the trip out to wherever you go be sure that you can confidently remember important words and sentence structures even if you are panicking. It will help in the long run while you are studying abroad.

Finally, if you are feeling doubtful or have any fears try to talk to others around you. If I am being honest, I am still trying to learn how to do this myself, but the few times I have shared my story with others made me feel better. The reason is because it gave me physical evidence that there are people who feel the same way as I do at the moment. We often hear about how people feel like no one understands them or we hear the same advice if you are not alone. But it is not until we actually openly go up and talk to people where we see this come into play. Plus it is always a fun time hearing each other’s horror stories of poor navigational skills.

Hopefully anyone reading this learns from my errors and can have better chances traveling. I hope to continue seeing you next time as well!