Six days ago- a day that seems so long ago now- I said a last Goodbye to Daddy and passed through security in Chicago, fighting back tears, headed to my gate, checked and re-checked my gate and flight number, and finally boarded the plane. Soon the plane was moving- going faster and faster – and before I knew it, we were lifting up, up into the sky. I watched, sentimental, as the familiar Illinois landscape grew farther and farther away.
The almost thirteen hour flight to Tokyo was mostly uneventful- I could not sleep so I watched movies, wrote, ate discusting airline food, and tried not to stress about being alone for the first time. I say “mostly uneventful” because with only three hours left to go, I became light headed and sick to my stomach- I was freezing, then unbearably hot, and I felt as if I had to throw up. I knew that I had to tell someone and when the caller did not work, I panicked, deciding finally to get up to find a stewardess. As I passed the bathroom, my vision began to twirl. Everything seemed to be moving and I could not make out the path anymore, so I held on to the seats for dear life and concentrated only on putting one foot in front of the other. But soon my legs refused to carry my weight any longer and everything turned black and I was falling, falling, until I found myself lying, crumpled, in the middle of the aisle. When I came to again, I heard worried voices on both sides calling to me and asking me if I was okay. One man reassured me that he had just called someone to help, but I could only moan in reply. It seemed too much like a nightmare that it took me a while to realize it was reality, and when that hit me, I felt so much humiliation that I instantly forced myself up again. I walked back to my seat, where a stewardess helped me eat and drink, and thankfully, after a while I felt better- though I still had to fight the urge to throw up. The next few hours were spent stressing about whether I would be able to make it through the arrival security and luggage procedures in my exhausted, sick state- especially because I was alone. I had no need to worry, though, because I only had to follow the crowd, show my passport a couple times, get my luggage, and wait for the EIL staff member to pick me up.
By the time I had met the other exchange students that had just been picked up from their terminals- Kuan Jen from Thaiwan, and Mike and Martin from Canada- I was talking and laughing in relief. After I sent off my luggage to my host family and exchanged my dollars for yen, we made our way to the train station. Kuan Jen- who is the same age as me- and I hit it off in a heartbeat and we discussed everything from Japanese pop music to Thaiwanese school uniforms. From the train window I saw the scenery change from suburban houses to denser buildings as I got my first look at Tokyo. The ride was long and we switched trains a couple times, lugging our heavy suitcases and trying not to lose our belongings in the hustle bustle of the station.
When we arrived at our final destination- Shinjuku- we made our way up and down a flight of stairs and into the grounds of the National Olympics Memorial Youth Center. This center, I soon learned from our EIL staff member, was once used for the Tokyo Olympics and houses sports facilities such as a pool, tennis court, etc. Students from all over the country come here to have competitions and camps. It is also used for international purposes, such as, of course, orientations for foreign exchange students. There are four different lodges and after dinner, we girls were shown our room in the A Lodge. We each got a single room next to each other, complete with a communal bathroom and TV room.
Though I was exhausted and the other girls who arrived before Kuan Jen and I- Stephany from Colorado and Niina and Elina from Norway- were already asleep, I had to email my mother to tell her I was okay because my international phone that I was supposed to call her with when I arrived safely was not working. Kuan Jen and I walked to the D Lodge, where there was a computer that we could use the internet on for the price of 100 yen ( about one dollar) for 15 minutes.
After emailing and facebooking to tell the world Zoe Brockman was safe and well, Kuan Jen and I returned to our lodge. I found it interesting that I had to put the key into the wall for the electricity to turn on, so that when a person is not using a room, no electricity is used and therefore saves energy. But that was all I noticed before I collapsed for the second time that day, this time on purpose, safely on my bed in the middle of Tokyo.