After leaving behind friends, family, and beloved pets, the SJMC Japan team began their long-awaited journey. Eight of the 14 members all met at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. For the majority of the group, check-in at the airport was a breeze. Some team members arrived a few hours early just in case they were faced with any surprise inconveniences.
Brianna Archer, an electronic media major, was pleasantly surprised with her experience at the airport. Although she has a fear of heights as well as flying, she felt prepared for the long flight to Japan.
“I don’t trust random machinery, or the people that make them,” Brianna said. “But, it went smoother than I thought it would.”
Despite being early, there was still a cloud of anxiety for the connecting flight in Houston and then the 12-hour flight to Japan. These concerns were quickly erased with a few card games before onboarding.
Meanwhile, Reese Zeigler, mass communication major, arrived to Japan two days before the rest of the team. As she reminisced about her flight, she recalled that she wasn’t that nervous about flying, at first, but the length of the flight to Japan worried her. Luckily, she was able to pass time by conversing with those around her.
“In all the seats around me was a large group from Indonesia,” Reese said. “This group of lovely people helped me feel calm.”
Their conversations included things they did in the United States and what they planned to do in Japan. Although Reese had a good experience with the new people around her, some people would prefer to sit next to people they know.
While boarding the flight to Tokyo, Brianna realized that our middle seats were in different rows but close to each other. We hoped to switch with a stranger so that we would be able to sit together, and we were thrilled when we able to. This made the flight more endurable.
Near the end of the flight, the person I was originally sitting next to pulled out an electrical razor and started to shave his head. I’m glad that I was able to sit next to someone that I knew and not a stranger. If I had stayed in that seat, I probably would have been brushing hair off of me for the rest of that day.
Our team was able to use different ways to destress and pass time before and during our flights, by playing card games, talking with strangers, and watching movies. The ANA flight had a full Japanese staff. All the announcements were made in Japanese, and then English. So, everything that was served and offered was Japanese. It was everyone’s first taste of Japan.
Brianna noticed that whenever the flight attendants distributed napkins, it was a sign that they were about to hand out food. So in response, we would clear off our tables in anticipation.
“My favorite part of the trip was the airplane food,” Brianna said.
Maya Hicks, a journalism major, was surprised to hear about the food we received on the ANA flight in contrast to the quality and amount of food she had on hers. On her Delta flight with another student, Sofia Psolka, they only received two meals with no snacks on her 12-hour flight. After being served what seemed like a rendition of a very popular dish, butter chicken, Maya was extremely disappointed with the entire meal.
After being asked if she had taken any pictures of her distasteful dishes, Maya said that she didn’t because “the food on the flight was not picture worthy.”
To end off the long flight, we were able to make it through customs and the baggage claim without any hiccups. As nearly everyone arrived at the hotel, the next main priority was to explore and find dinner.