The first time I traveled abroad was when I was granted a training scholarship by the Japanese government. I felt very blessed because Japan was my most favorite country. It made living in a foreign country alone less lonely.
From Centrair airport, I had to ride a train going to Gifu where I`d meet my sensei. There was a ticket machine on where to buy tickets but my mind was too lost to think. A Japanese woman was nearby to assist travelers. I went up to her and showed her my notes and instructions in Japanese that I had to buy a certain ticket going to Gifu. I handed her my 10,000 yen and she politely gave me the change. It was more than four years already but I could still remember her wearing a yellow uniform
I was pushing my baggage trolley and wondering if I should get on the train which was just in front of me I grabbed my bags and got on the train. However, after a few minutes I realized I left my notes and instructions in the baggage trolley. I went back to find them but the trolley wasn`t there anymore. I relied on my memory on where I was to meet my sensei. As soon as I got off the train and into the exit, I saw a man holding a paper with my name on it. He wasn`t holding it up to be seen. It was tucked on his side. My flight from my home country was delayed but he wasn`t aware of it so I guess he was waiting there for a long time already
I was carrying my baggage on our way to the elevator when sensei asked me if I needed help. I told him I was okay. So, he just let me carry my own baggage. Actually, I was not okay! My things were so heavy but I thought he would insist I just realized it was my first encounter of cultural differences. I wasn`t in the Philippines anymore so I couldn`t just expect him to be `maginoo` (gentleman) and carry my things for me.
While I was in my sensei`s car on the way to the university dorm, I noticed how the streets were so dark. It didn`t look like a lively city with bright lights. I wasn`t sure if most small cities in Japan were really like that or if it was because of the Tohoku earthquake that happened seven months earlier. I asked him about it but he had difficulty giving a reply because of his English ability.
It was October and I remembered I felt so cold even though I was already wearing a coat. I was greeted by two Asian foreigners, a Thai lady and a Pakistani man, who were also in a training scholarship like me. I was thankful that the man from Pakistan carried my heavy baggage from the first floor up until the fifth floor of the dormitory building. Until now, I could not forget his kindness.
When I woke up the next morning, I didn`t know what to do. All I knew was I was hungry. After a few minutes, the telephone in my room rang. It was the Thai lady inviting me out to eat. We went to buy a bento box in a nearby supermarket From there, we became food buddies. She was able to introduce me to different places to eat around Gifu until she finished her term I felt bad about not bidding her goodbye personally during her last day in the dorm
One thing that I was really thankful for during my first travel abroad was the kindness that my senpais showed me. They were there to assist me on my first night of arrival and the days after. They made sure to inform me of the important things I needed to know and where I could buy my basic needs. We all came from different countries but I was amazed of how accepted they made me feel. My first travel abroad made me realize that even though some countries are in conflict with each other as reported in the news, it doesn’t mean that people in those countries feel the same way toward other nationalities. In the end, we are who we want to be.