Angela Jung has written a few articles on her travels and adventures….Here she write about a recent trip to Japan where things didn’t go as smoothly as planned.Time and time again, I have always told others that I aspire to become a journalist. Because of this, my dear mother thought it was pointless of me to apply for an English teaching position for my C-op (work experience) program. To cause even greater doubts in my dear mother’s mind, this position is in Japan. She does not understand the value of experience. It is, after all, Life’s greatest teacher. If I can test the waters of becoming a teacher now, I may have another career choice to fall back on. Since the opportunity is here and now, what better time to gain international experience as well!
And so it began in early May…
In the world of international affairs, I learned that not everyone will comprehend and speak English. And when you are on a tight time schedule, communication is everything. And going through immigration is always a pain. But my plane arrived in the Narita airport half an hour behind schedule, so I had to make it to my boarding gate within an hour for my connecting flight to Nagoya. I am a pretty antsy person. So the long line up at immigration conjured up some heavy apprehension. Luckily I wasn’t near the back of the line, so there was hope for me. However, when it was finally my turn the immigration inspection man took so long examining my passport and making me retake fingerprint imprints and headshots, I began to worry. Everyone else in the line next to me was passing through like bullets. I was still standing there while the man looked puzzle. After he took a final picture, he called someone over and said the only thing I could make out: intern. A lady escorted me to “The Waiting Room” which was an empty room with lots of seats. No one was there, hence the emptiness. She took my passport and went into another room. I was in a very questionable circumstance. This is where the language barrier really becomes the greatest enemy. But after a few moments of trying to convince myself to be calm and that everything will work out in the end, she finally came back into the room and pointed me to the baggage claim location.
After hauling my luggage to the check-in counter, I arrived at the waiting floor on time and with half an hour to spare. I was very proud of myself even though I was sweating like crazy from moving from one end of the airport to the other in a hasty fashion. Anyway, I knew I would be on a smaller plane this time because it was only a one hour flight from Narita to Nagoya. So the plane would not connect to the airport and people had to be shuttled over to it. Before surrendering my plane ticket to board the shuttle bus, I heard the flight attendant mention something about going to Nagoya (a very important fact) and something about Japan Airlines (also a very important fact), but then she mentioned something about American Airlines which I dismissed because I had already heard all my key terms. When I boarded the shuttle I managed to snag myself a seat. I was grinning and content that on my first trip flying internationally by myself, I was able to make it without any more further worries. But as usual, once I thought things were going well, something had to burst my bubble. There were two shuttle buses, you see, and I boarded the first shuttle bus. Once we started driving away I saw that the other shuttle bus had the flight number that I was suppose to board. I didn’t know what to do for several seconds. I was close to the front, but not close enough to walk pass everybody with my carry-ons to speak to the driver. So I took out my ticket stub and I shoved it in front of the elderly man that was sitting behind me. Is this it? I asked as I pointed to the flight number. He nodded his head but he looked grumpy and mean. This gave me a temporary moment of relief. But that shuttle ride was long – ”far too long. Every time we drove past an American Airlines plane I held my breath. Every time we drove past a Japan Airlines plane I prayed that it would stop. But the bus just kept on going, and going, and going. After the longest ten minutes of my life, we finally parked in front of a Japan Airlines plane. But I was still not persuaded, so I asked the flight attendant once I stepped onto the plane to make sure I was boarding the correct one. Fortunately, I was. And I learned afterwards that Japan Airlines had collaborated with American Airlines for this particular flight. I didn’t even know that airline collaboration was plausible. But now I know better.
Afterwards, due to some major turbulence, the plane was a bit slow on take-off and we arrived later than expected. My baggage took forever to come through, but luckily I did not have to go through immigration and customs again because I boarded a domestic flight. When I finally gathered my belongings – ”and my composure – ”I walked into the arrival floor expecting someone to be holding a sign for me. You know, just like the kind in movies for the people you’ve never met, or the people you did know but it’s been too long so you aren’t 100% sure how they look like now. For me, it was the former. This meant I did not know who to expect as well. When I stepped out I saw no sign. None which said my name and none which said the company’s name. I started to head to the exchange bureau for some Japanese coins so I could make an emergency call. Just as I was heading there a slim British man asked me whether or not I was Angela. I beamed. Never have I been so glad to hear my name! I asked him afterwards how he knew it was me. He told me that my last name suggested to him that I am of an Asian heritage and I had a lot of luggage. This still puzzles me because in Japan there are clearly a lot of Asians, and I am certain that there were tons of other females with plenty of luggage walking around. So yes, this is a mystery indeed. I attribute this to his guessing skills.
I knew that the moment I left the airport it did not signify my Japan adventure commencement because this adventure had already begun the moment I boarded a Japanese flight. If I had been successful in the first step of this journey, perhaps the next eight months can promise good company, learning opportunities, travels and maybe even a chance to save money. Wish me luck!