Sunday, September 25, 2011

My girl in Japan

I don't know that Diana will be able to actually keep a diary or blog, although she'd like to - she is already having a tough time keeping up on Facebook - so I figured I'd post about what I can from what we've chatted & Skyped about her time there. :)

The trip started Monday evening, leaving Roseburg around 4:00 in the afternoon.  Diana had packed all her stuff and I got off work.  She said good-bye to her brothers (she'd already said good-bye to her dad while he was at work), and we drove down to Medford.

When we arrived, there were already lots of cars there.  Diana's aunts & uncles were there for a little send off party.  There was ravioli & sauce, salad & parmesan bread. For dessert, I made a crumble from my apple pie filling which we ate with ice cream.

I missed a photo with Grandpa or Myrna & Doug.  :/

After everyone left, we chatted with Grandpa a bit more & watched some "Dancing with the Stars."  Diana & I shared a guest room, and she set her alarm on her phone with a "cock-a-doodle-doo!!!" ringtone to wake us up.  Yeah - I should not touch the dang phone - I could NOT get it to turn off when it rang at 4:00am!  It cock-a-doodle-dood about 14 times.

Diana took a shower while I collected our stuff and got it to the front door.  Pop got up and gave Diana a hug to send her off & let her know how proud he was of her :)  We left the house by 4:40 and were at the airport by 5:00.

Both of us were feeling pretty anxious here.  Neither of us likes to fly - but Diana said she was stubborn and was going to do whatever she had to so she could get to Japan!  We figured out that Horizon was the same as Alaska Airlines, so she checked her big bag through to Tokyo, and got checked in.  They had a metal cage in the dimensions for carry-on luggage, so she put her backpack in there to be sure it would fit.  She had room to spare :)  Then we went upstairs to the restaurant since she had almost an hour before boarding.

We both had the french toast, and while she's smiling here, she was nervous & only ate 1/2 of the food.  At least the service was good & it was tasty enough!  At 6:00 she headed down to security, we had a long hug, and she went to security (no line - yay small airports).  She got through security fine, and waved to me from the other side.  I went up to the observation deck & waited for her flight to leave.  The observation deck is covered, but open air, so it was a tad chilly.

That's when I saw she was going to be in a prop plane.  Diana's not really fond of prop planes - when she & her dad had to take one during the MADE, it swayed all over the sky like a boat.  However, her Grandpa had assured her that early morning flights are not turbulent.  It's the afternoon & evening you have to watch for :)  That's Diana just in front of the nose of the plane in the walkway.

Her flight took off as scheduled, and I took a video clip to show Connor when I got home.  She actually had already landed in Seattle before I made it back to our house :)  But then she had a long wait there before she would board her flight to Korea.

She managed to find a plug and wifi, and was able to talk with me on Skype while she waited at Seattle airport.  She thought it was pretty dang big :)  She said Grandpa was right & the flight had been smooth.  She prefers the larger jets when she flies though :)

At around 1:00 she logged off to get ready for her flight to Seoul, Korea.  This was a long one - 12 hours.  Lee found a program online that showed us the progress of her flight.  They flew north over Alaska & Russia, then down south.  About the mid-point of her trip, I found out there was a typhoon going through Japan.  Now I was checking her flight AND the weather in Japan.  I left her a message on Facebook that  her flight might be delayed, and then I went to bed.

Around 2:30am, the phone rings.  Diana is in Seoul, and her connecting flight has been canceled.  The airline is sending the passengers to a hotel for the night.  She was rather confused and very tired, so we just told her to stick with the group, listen for the instructions and have the concierge do a wake-up call so she's up in time for her shuttle back & flight.  She had already made a friend by then, and we told her that was great & they could make sure the other wasn't missing when it was time to go - Buddy System!!  I didn't sleep much the rest of the night after we hung up.  Poor kiddo!

I went to work the next morning, but we knew she had Lee's number if there was another issue, but nothing came up.  After I got home from work, she arrived in Tokyo (I checked the airline's flight status).  It was 9:00 am there (5:00pm our time) by the time she was able to find a wifi connection & plugs.  She had to wait until 2:00pm her time to meet up with her group.  In the meantime she'd made it through customs, and had to stay with all her luggage while she waited.  She found the meeting place, and kind of set up there to draw, study and whatever else she could do to stay busy.  I went to bed while she was doing that.

When I got up at 6:00 the next morning, I logged on to see she'd posted she had met the group - but that was all...  I was a little worried, as I'd hoped to see something about arriving at the University.  Around 6:30 she logged on, and they had JUST ARRIVED at the dorm!  There had been traffic and delays and who knows what - but that was pretty much 48 hours of travel for her from our airport to finally making it to her dorm!

There's no internet in the dorm rooms, and neither of her roomies were there yet (although one is a Residence Assistant, but had left the room a mess...).  There's a common room next to the communal kitchen, and there's internet there, so that's where she was.  She was really exhausted, and I thanked her for letting us know she was okay - and then she went to bed.  Wow - what an adventure!

I just talked with her this morning on the phone (I wasn't up yet on my computer & she was ready to go to bed, so she called).  She starts school tomorrow, with a placement test for her Japanese.  She's not sure how difficult the test will be.  If she scores lower, she'll basically be re-doing her Japanese from last year (which was actually a challenge to her - but she'd passed everything).  If she scores higher, the class will count as Japanese 4 for a whole year at UO.  Either way, her Japanese will improve tremendously by just being in the country, but one way she gets credit for it.  I figure either way it's a win - she'll reinforce what she was challenged by before if she places lower.  Her roomies are still not there.  One might be sick & coming later?  She's made friends and met people in real life that she's only spoken to online before :)  She's done tours with the school and hung out with the other international students quite a bit.

One shock to me was that there was no food for the students.  I understood they were responsible for making their own food at the university, but I expected they would have had some sort of welcome basket for when the kids arrived.  They came in at 10:00pm and there wasn't anything there for them to eat outside of vending machines.  The next day, they all had to go shopping - but it was a good thing Diana had packed bars & snacks so she had something for dinner & breakfast!

She's having a blast so far, and she's got a lot more photos up on Facebook.  School starts for her tomorrow (like the schedule here), and I hope she does great & has a blast!  I'll update more later.