It’s been an interesting few weeks here in Nagoya following the Tohoku Earthquake.
First of all, let me just say that what happened to the people in the northern part of Japan, and whoever else was affected is truly heartbreaking. It’s going to take a long time for these great people to rebuild and get their lives back to a sense of normalcy. In a way, I feel honored to be here while history is being made, however depressing it may be.
However, I must say, Nagoya is perfectly fine. It’s quite shocking to see just how much damage was left in the wake of the tsunami, when virtually nothing has changed here. There is no shortage of water, food, or any resources. Transportation has run as usual, with the only hiccup being immediately after the quake when trains running to the north part of the country were disrupted, naturally. Really, the only issues I’ve had in the last few weeks has been that the supermarket near my house ran out of my favorite flavor of packaged ramen (but still had plenty of other selections), and trying to convince everyone that I’m okay, and not in danger.
One major issue with this whole ordeal has been the media coverage of the events surrounding us now. News agencies today thrive on fear, sadness, and bad news, and will milk a story for all it’s worth in order to get more readers or viewers. Again, I’m not trying to downplay what has happened here, but to assume that the entire country of Japan has been devastated and is now in a major state of rebuilding would be completely false. The fear-mongering really needs to stop, because it only causes panic among our friends and families back home whose only means of information regarding the situation are these reports.
This panic has ruined a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for many of my friends here, who were required to return to their home countries after their universities and families jumped to conclusions about what is going on. Last week was rather eerie, when we returned after spring break to find that over half of the international students that were studying here have left. For a few days, me and my close friends were thankful that none in our group were being forced to return home. Then that changed. We had to say a really heavy goodbye to someone who truly wanted to be in Japan, and whose Japanese skills were improving exponentially. Needless to say, last week was pretty much awful.
If anyone representing my university reads this, please realize that I am truly fine, and to require me to return home at this point would do so much more damage than good. The international students here have formed such strong camaraderie in the wake of the last few weeks, and every time we have to say goodbye to someone else, the cycle starts all over again. Again, this is such an exciting experience and to cut it short without having all the necessary information would be such a shame.
Now, it seems things are settling down, although with fewer friends.
This last weekend, I was able to have a wonderful 21st birthday celebration with those that did remain (radiation theme, anyone?) It was a unique experience… one that I will never forget. Here’s me getting teary-eyed over the birthday 乾杯 (photo by Ben Plant):
I’ve really become more thankful for my safety and health, the friends that I’ve made here, and that I have such a great support system behind me, both here and back home. I hope that there are many more adventures to be had while I’m in this amazing country.
It’s my birthday!
I got to spend it with some pretty amazing people! There was only one person who I really wish could have been there. :( Miss you Whit!
But so thankful that I got to have such a unique experience for the big 2-1. I’m sure there are a few not-so-classy pictures that will surface in the days to come.