ok, here we go. it's the first step of my journey:
(i just had to start with a picture of my friend alex and the unbelievable amount of stuff he brought--girls and guys alike marveled at his luggage. out of respect to him, though, i'm only putting in a picture of his back.)
after a twelve hour flight and a two-hour busride through the futuristic, surreal, and neverending tokyo landscape, we arrived at the chandelier-bedecked keio plaza hotel. waiting around while some new friends changed their dollars to yen (and desperately hungry), i was hit by a human rocket--my college roommate (who lives in tokyo) was miraculously able to find me among the 1200 other arrivals milling about the hotel in spite of no concrete info about when i'd get in or what room i'd be in! she bolted across the lobby and tackled me before i could grasp why someone was hanging off my neck. i hadn't seen her in four years! she took me and the rest of our travel-weary group into the night to find a place to eat.
oh, look how happy i am...i'm seeing one of my best friends, i'm eating...if i only knew what would hit a few short hours later...total mind and body breakdown! dun dun DUN! this was the start of only the second time in my life i've had difficulty eating. well, i was scared to death. thoughts of, "um...what the hell did i think i was doing?" may have crossed my mind. an absolute change of everything in my life: language, food, cultural assumptions, people, occupation. that's steep. hence, a picture of the banana i was finally able to keep down (yaaay!)
i even went to a little seminar on culture shock given by a very nice psychologist who succeeded in causing me a lot more anxiety and panic than i was already feeling. shaking, i returned to my room and immersed myself in a hot bath and watched an episode of mythbusters on my ipod to mediate my reality (distract myself from the situation at hand). haha. that poor kid that tried to chat me up at the final reception...i must have seemed so odd and standoffish, when i was just trying to keep from barfing my dinner before several hundred people. i kept telling myself to enjoy such a luxurious hotel, but i didn't feel remarkably better until we finally GOT GOING. the day we scattered all over japan, my malaise was gone.