As you might have inferred from my lack of posts this last month, I am no longer in Japan.
Alone, the natural forces behind the disaster in Japan would not have jeopardized our stay. The uncertainties over the stability of the Fukushima nuclear plant, however, were of enough concern that our program made the decision to withdraw us from our schools, a decision that quickly followed the same announcement by IES Abroad (one of the biggest study abroad programs).
Our early return was arranged in conjunction with our program insurance, and our departments have been working very hard to arrange for the correct appropriation of credit where it is due.
Our withdrawal was abrupt, but I had been anticipating the worst. I was determined to stay unless UW made the call to withdraw us.
The day the verdict was made I woke up around 2:30am with a coughing fit, finding it difficult to breathe due to a sinus infection. Not five minutes later did I realize my notification light on my phone begin to blink at me. I opened the phone to find a message from Jasmine, an IES student. She had just received her withdrawal notice from the program and was devastated. I assured her it was probably only a matter of time before we too would be withdrawn.
Not even an hour later and I got an email from Melissa back in the states. She had seen the news first and apologized. I soon got Facebook notifications from a few other friends with ties to the Japanese department, also empathizing for our situation. I shot a message to Erik to see what the official email said and he was quick to call me back. He shared the contact info for the insurance company, and I made the call right away.
The operator took my information and set me up for a flight the following morning, giving me just over 24 hours to pack and run errands and close important accounts.
My host family (including my host-sister's family who was visiting) was very saddened by the news, but understood the situation. They made it clear that was welcome back at any time, even just dropping by without notice. I wasn't surprised because they had been quite generous to me throughout my whole stay.
I departed that Saturday morning from Nagoya's Centrair Airport, transferring at Tokyo's Narita Airport, and arrived at O'hare Int'l on Saturday morning (irrefutably the longest Saturday of my life). I teared up during both takeoffs, thinking of all of the lost opportunities I had been looking forward to in the following two months. I quickly regained my composure and thought of all of the people anxiously awaiting my return.
The whole experience has been unforgettable, and it's something I am grateful for. I look forward to the time I return to Japan to finally experience the spring sakura blossoms in Kyoto and visit other important cities I had yet to visit.
I won't be back until after I graduate next May, but I guarantee I will make my return.
What will become of this blog you might ask. Well, my blog has not reached the end of its evolution, so I will continue to write about several topics regarding Japan in general. Your continued readership would be utmost appreciated.
In sad farewells and sayonaras there is a glimmer of when we will meet again. Until then, Japan.