We started our second day of World Campus International early, arriving at 7:45 at Keimei High School, in Mito, Ibaraki. We left immediately for the Hitachi Corporation, located nearby, where we were met with a smile and a stern policy against photography on the premises. In the effort of preserving memories, we immediately broke the only rule we knew, and took a group photograph on a particularly special staircase, reserved only for workers who have recently retired from Hitachi. After a quick ride up the adjoining escalator, we all simultaneously retired from our short-lived careers at the technology company. If these traditions are to be believed, I can only assume Hitachi has an unusually high turnover for its employees.
To begin our official goodbye tour of the complex, we were shown an informational video about the bullet we dodged by quitting when we did. The technology presented to us was daunting and impressive, and between comprehensive facility tours, and inspired question-answer-style forums, I’m sure I speak for everyone when I say that nobody really knows all of the secrets that Hitachi Corporation holds. All I know is that it’s beyond my grasp of science and human cooperation. Upon boarding the bus to bring us back to Keimei, we left with heavy eyes and tearful hearts, and returned to our home base with commemorative pens. I assume our final paychecks are in the mail.
After we situated ourselves in the meeting room/dance hall we had overthrown earlier this week, we tested Juuso’s patience, and his ability to rip paper in half, as we spent half an hour meticulously smudging the handwriting on roughly thirty Thank You-cards, all while pretending to write our own names on them. To our dismay, only one card was smudged, but luckily Juuso stepped his game up and kindly ripped a second one for us out of the kindness of his heart. We then changed into our knock-arounds, and practiced our dancing and singing for the Arigato event coming up. Whitney took some personal initiative and kindly volunteered me to sing a solo in one of our songs. My gratitude is palpable, I’m sure. As far as the dancing goes, Juuso says we’ve improving, but I think he might just be getting tired of ripping things in half.
My time spent at home consisted largely of a trip across the neighborhood to a local bookstore with my host brothers. On our way there, we stopped at the Mito Art complex, and took an elevator to the top of its 100-meter tower. The tower was quirky and fascinating, with windows on every side, granting an unobstructed view of the area for miles in every direction. It was a unique and worthy experience, and I genuinely don’t have any jokes to say about my time there. With that, Mito Art Tower is likely the least-funny place in Ibaraki.
Dinner was special tonight. My host family treated me to a night out at a Japanese restaurant, offering me the authentic Japanese experience that any red-blooded American otaku would die for. I couldn’t understand much of what they were saying to the waitress, but in no time I was bombarded with a plethora of foods. Everything from chicken livers to shrimp sashimi and kimchi came flying through the door. Dishes began piling on the table. The waitress had extra help just for carrying plates and bowls into the room. It was after the third or fourth course that I began to wonder if this wasn’t some sort of ritualistic food sacrifice to the white American demon. I had happily filled up on chicken and fish and egg, and yet the food kept coming. After a cartoonishly large stack of plates had been carried away, the American demon had been sated. Sorry about all the rain recently; it’s kinda my responsibility to return the favor.
Overall, my day was exciting and developmental. I look forward more every day to what strange experience Japan and the World Campus International team have to offer us moving forward.
Jack Malban (USA)