By Kate Hashiya ’24
This is my journey back home for winter break, but it wasn’t a normal trip. Let me tell you what happened. How long would it take for you to go back home? A ten-minute car ride? Five-hour flight? Or, if you are an international student, it might take you ten hours or more. Yes, that’s me. My name is Kate Hashiya, and I came all the way from another continent, a country called Japan. It takes me fifteen hours to get back home… if everything goes normally.
I left Hebron Academy on December 18th, 2021 at two A.M.. I had a transit flight through Texas. I arrived at Boston Logan airport, and I departed for Texas by six A.M. It was all going great until I arrived in Texas, until the part where my ticket didn’t tell me which gate I was supposed to go. I texted my dad, (trust me, my dad knows everything) and he told me I’m flying with Japan Airlines. I was waiting at the gate by JAL, and they started loading people a few minutes after. It was at that moment that I found out that there were two flights departing at the same time to the same place.
I ran to the other gate, where my real flight was. There was only one thing in my mind; WHY IS DALLAS AIRPORT SO HUGE???? I ran for five minutes, and I still didn’t see my gate. I finally got to the real gate, and by the time I got there, they had already closed the door.
I asked the lady there for help, and they quickly asked me for all my forms. I was relieved for a second that I still might be able to get on the flight. They then asked me for the PCR testing form. I showed them a paper I got from the school, thinking that it was all I needed. It was unacceptable. I needed the form that the Japanese government set, which meant I couldn’t get on my flight with the English form I had. I was so scared that my dad would be so mad and wouldn’t let me go home anymore, but they told me they could book the next flight for me, which was the day after. I had no idea what I was supposed to do, so I called my dad again. He was so surprised, and he was talking to the staff by the gate. They came to a solution of keeping me in the airport for a night. They had a place where they took care of the children under fifteen years old during the transit. Although I was sixteen, they could keep me there since I couldn’t reserve a hotel, and I needed somewhere to sleep.
I hated my country for a moment, but it was a rare experience to stay in an airport. A nice lady named Noriko san (she had the same name as my mom!) took me to the PCR testing center, so I could get a proper Japanese form. She looked evil in my eyes when she told me I couldn’t get on a plane, but she was so nice as we talked and spent some time together. I didn’t sleep well that night, and it was so weird to walk around the huge empty airport at two in the morning. I got to the right gate the next day, and thanked Noriko san again. A long long twenty four hours later, I finally got on the plane.
Somehow, the thirteen hour flight felt very short. I was mostly sleeping the whole time. I knew there was still a whole process I needed to go through to meet my dad, and there was one thing I still didn’t know. It was whether or not I needed to quarantine in a hotel. The Japanese government announced that people from Texas needed to be quarantined, but not Maine. Even my dad couldn’t give me the answer. I was waiting in line to get my form stamped at the counter when I heard the guy in front of me ask the staff if he needed to quarantine for three days if he visited Texas only for the transit, and I finally heard the good news: The answer was no! I walked up to the counter, and I told her that I came from Maine. She marked zero on my form, and I was finally allowed to meet my dad.
It was already dark when I got out of the airport. It was already eleven P.M.. My dad rushed from the hotel, as he didn’t expect to see me that day. We hugged each other, and my dad told me he was not doing this again. That night, my dad drove for seven hours north from Tokyo. I slept through the night in the back seat. When I woke up, it was six A.M., and we were in the ferry terminal in Aomori. Our ferry left at ten A.M.. We were both so tired that we slept through the ferry ride.
When we arrived in Hokkaido, I could finally see the roads I’m familiar with. It was as if I were dreaming, and I couldn’t be more surprised or excited. On the way back home, I heard more surprising news. My family moved!!! I’m going back to a new house!!! I was tired of surprises at that point, but I got very excited and everything started to seem real. I could finally meet my mom. She hugged me and welcomed me to our new house.
That was the end of my four-day journey. It was the most chaotic four days of my life, but being able to spend even ten days with my family made it worth it.