the end

This was my last week in Japan and I am now headed home. Japan Travel threw me and a few other leaving interns a farewell party and I got to make some wonderful memories with the team. I hope I can come back and work with them again.

I’m so unbelievably grateful for my experience here, this was an absolutely unforgettable trip. Despite living in different countries and being somewhat familiar with having to temporarily live somewhere other than home, I have never adapted so quickly and easily into an environment before. It is so rare to connect so deeply to a country and an environment on such a level. I’m beyond myself thinking about how fast those 6 weeks went, and am heartbroken to leave what I’ve established in such little time. I know everyone always talks about how significant their study abroad experience is and how it’s life-changing and I always thought it was a little over-exaggerated, but I see now that it’s not. This trip is not something I will ever forget, and I’m so grateful to IES and the people at JT.

We spent the last day with Professor Kojima in Tokyo, and went on a river cruise around Tokyo as well as had some yummy Japanese sweets. Professor Kojima really treated us well and made our last day incredibly memorable, it was the best way to say goodbye to our study abroad experiences. I’m very thankful for her effort in planning those activities and showing us around, what a lucky experience we were able to have with her while she was also in Tokyo! It turns out she lives in Chiba as well, so we were also able to take the train back together.

There’s still so much I wanted to do but I can honestly say I did much, much more than I ever thought possible. I thought 6 weeks was a long time but everyone was right to say there’s just to much to do in Tokyo. It was very reminiscent of being in Cairo too, I always say you could go out every single day for a year and still not see everything in the city. And being in Tokyo just made me realize how much I want that for myself in the future after graduation, this trip has definitely played a big part in where I imagine myself living and working after IWU.

I’m also so happy I was able to get to know the other students who were here with IES and just make friends thanks to IES in general.

Now I’ll be going home to Cairo for a few weeks to spend time with my family then return to IWU. Thank you for following my trip and thank you for the opportunity!

Back from Okinawa

Okinawa was an unforgettable experience. I didn’t think my trip to Japan could get any more special and I was fully proven wrong this week. First off, the opportunity to get to stay in such a high-end and authentic hotel in Okinawa is nothing I would have been able to achieve on my own, so I have my company to be thankful for. The flight there was short and sweet, and as soon as I arrived, I was greeted by the PR team who organized the trip and the other representatives from other media/tourism companies. Everyone was really nice, and we got a hotel tour (oh my god! to say the least) and the headed to the beach. The water was so clear and beautiful. I didn’t expect Okinawa to be so forest-like and tropical, but it’s literally a jungle island with a beach! I guess I’m more used to being around sandy beach areas from back home in the Mediterranean Sea. The guides were also wonderful and incredibly accommodating! I got to go to their spa, which was filled with a variety of different sento and onsens. It was incredible.

They had jacuzzies lined up all around their pools with incredible views of the island. I’m a little afraid of heights and our rooms were on the highest floor so it took a little bit of adjusting but it was such a beautiful sight to wake up to. The food was also beyond description, it was gorgeous and delicious, and I got to try a lot of new local dishes.

The next day we woke up early and had a full day ahead of us, we got to stop by the flea market and take some pictures at a famous spot. Then we headed to the middle of the forest, literally, and had a mud buggy experience through the trails inside the forest. Then we had lunch, Okinawa’s famous local soba, and then headed to a coffee farm where we learned a lot about agriculture and got to make and drink our own coffee. It was such a wholesome and intimate experience and I think it might’ve been my favorite part honestly. We then headed to the beach and I spent a few hours in the water and got some really nice shots. We got to attend a special dinner with a set course menu, which included the best wagyu beef I’ve had since being here. I went to the spa again and ending the night with soaking in a hot bath is something I’m going to miss when I go back home. Like, why aren’t onsens so available and accessible everywhere? It’s definitely been my favorite part of being here.

The next morning was our last day and we had a hammock yoga session early and then headed to the beach to ride on the famous glass floor boat where you can see the fish and the corals from the boat. It was absolutely unforgettable and was such a nice way to finish off the trip. I would have done anything to stay a few more days, Okinawa is beyond beautiful and it’s a completely different vibe than Tokyo. The people’s dialect is different, and everyone is much more relaxed and easy-going. I guess living on a beautiful tropical island has that effect on people :)) it honestly kind of reminded me of being at the North Coast in Egypt, where there are many beach towns, and everyone is on ‘island time’ and we just spend our entire summers out in the sun and in the water. I hope I get to go back to Okinawa again and spend some more time there. There were so many families and friends going on trips together, and I hope I can bring my family there when I’m older. It’s such a special place to experience with loved ones.

Please enjoy the photos, I sure enjoyed taking them :))!

Working from home..

Hey again!

It’s been a pretty slow week, I think I’m starting to feel the effects of constantly being on tourist mode for like four weeks. I don’t want to waste any time here so I’ve been going out almost everyday even after work and having very full weekends and I think I needed a break these past few days. I’m only here for six weeks and they flew by! But I worked from home these past few days to get ahead of the work week since I’ll be in Okinawa next week :)) I am beyond excited, I can’t even fathom that this trip ended up happening. I’m so beyond grateful for everyone at JT for giving me this opportunity.

So, in the spirit of taking it easy and allowing myself to burn out a little bit, I don’t really have much planned this weekend besides a day trip to Okutama tomorrow. Okutama has been on my list from the very beginning so I’m glad it’s finally happening. We’re going to start the day very early since it takes around 2 hours to get there by train. We’re going to hike Mt. Mitake, see the Mitake Shrine and try to find some hidden waterfall on the hiking trail. We’ll also pass through Mitake village and some people who have passed through there said it would be helpful to ask for help/instructions, so I’m really excited for that experience. Then people at work recommended to go to Okutama station and just wander around Tama River to find a nice spot to swim and relax after the hike. If we have time, I’m also hoping to see the floating bridge because it reminded me of the train tracks on water from Spirited Away :)) After all of that, next on the list is a very famous onsen in the area that people travel to Okutama just to experience. Then we’ll head back to Tokyo. I’ve been planning this trip for a while so I’m very excited it’s finally happening!

Really, for the next two weeks I’m just going to try to wrap up my experience here and close up all my assignments at work. I still have a few articles to write and I don’t want to be short on time right before I leave. I did almost everything I wanted to, I think there’s just the Tsujiki market left (which I always procrastinate because you have to go really early) and I can do that sometime next weekend :))

I got to do so much more than I was expecting actually, I was worried at the beginning that I wouldn’t be able to do anything, but this internship has actually contributed greatly to my experiences here. I was just at Fuji-Q highland a few days for a press tour of a new ride and rode the craziest rollercoaster of my entire life. I don’t know if I’d do it again, but it was definitely worth the experience. And I’ll be able to go to Okinawa next week as well :)) I have so much to be grateful for because of JT and IES, I told them to expect me back after graduation :))! This trip definitely changed the trajectory of my post-graduation plans in the best way possible. This might be the first time I’ve actually really felt the impact of the work I’ve done in college with my degree. Like my writing has improved drastically, and working with Professor Plath for The Argus has given me so many skills that allows me to work independently in companies like these. I know this sounds like free advertisement for working in this industry, but this is genuinely the feeling I’ve had for the past four weeks like I can’t imagine doing anything else in my life and this trip has cemented that idea in my career. I’ve never been so sure of my decision to choose English and Journalism as a career path and seeing the real-life tangible output of my education/work is beyond fulfilling.

I’ll be back to update you all about Okinawa! So far, there’s beach activities, hiking, yoga and special dinners planned on the itinerary. I think there’s more than just JT going on the trip, it might be more similar to a press tour type of thing which will be great for networking and connecting with other tourism/marketing companies.

Thanks for reading, and I hope to have more content for you soon! Here are some photos from Fuji-Q, which is about two hours from Tokyo in a different prefecture and is a great place to see some amazing views of the mountains.

Past halfway there..

I can’t believe that in less than three weeks, this trip will be over. I’ve been having a wonderful time and I’ve learned so much during my internship. Last week we held a goodbye party at work for some people who were leaving, and I really got to see and understand just how much this work environment values its people. People at work really care for each other and it’s very apparent in moments like those. Those leaving gave speeches, and they received goodbye presents from the office. It was beautiful to see, and everyone overall had a very happy time together. I can definitely see myself working in a similar environment once I graduate, and I’m grateful I got to be a part of those moments.

On another note, we celebrated Nathalie’s birthday last weekend! We got a tiny cake-ish item from the convenience store and a few candles, it was sweet :))

I also went to Zushi for the first time yesterday and it’s this small beach town by the water that has a very different environment than Tokyo. It sort of reminds me of what it’s like near the beach in Egypt too, everyone is a little less busy and the whole town is incredibly quiet. I was hoping to see Mt. Fuji since people said the beach is a great place to see it but I guess it was too cloudy that day. I did see some incredible shells on the beach, and had some great finger good with fish flakes by the water. It was different than all my experiences in Tokyo so far, but still very memorable :))

I’m going to Fuji-Q highland tomorrow with work! I’ll be writing an article about their new rollercoaster, and we’ll be spending the whole day there with the Press Event team. I’m very excited.

And..the big news of the week is that I’m going to Okinawa next week! Everyone in the office was so casual when someone from the sales team asked me if I’d be interested in going and I freaked out and immediately said yes! I guess it’s common for people to go on similar business trips, which is another reason why I mentioned last week I’d love to experience working full-time for a travel agency and being able to write more intimate articles about specific experiences. This trip is happening in collaboration with a hotel that is trying to build connections with the company, so the office needs someone from the creative team to go and write an article and potentially gather some social media content. I guess even just away from travel agencies, I think I am overall interested in working with other companies and working in media-specific journalism in general. I’m not sure if that follows the category of PR or advertising..or both? But either way, I’ve definitely opened a lot more options by being here and working with Japan Travel.

I’ll update you about the Okinawa trip, three days next week in Nago. Thanks for reading and staying patient :)) Please enjoy some photos I took over the course of this trip!

Week 3

So I’m almost halfway through the trip and things are starting to progress very quickly. At the beginning it was mostly just getting accustomed, settling down, familiarizing myself with transportation and going to work and all that. But now, the activities and the work I’m doing is starting to take off.

This weekend the company is throwing a goodbye party for a few people at work, and I’m also celebrating a friend’s birthday. There is also an Arabian festival at Yoyogi park that I really want to end, but it depends on how I feel after a full two days of activities. I’ll hopefully be going to Fuji-Q highland with my company next week for the press release of this new rollercoaster, it’s a day trip! Then, I’ll hopefully be going to Osaka for two nights to attend the Senshu beach lantern festival which I’m incredibly excited for. I’ll be back for one day, and then my company is sending me to Okinawa for another two nights to build media connections with a hotel there. I’ll be expected to make some social media content and also write an article about my experience.

I’m so unbelievably grateful to have had all these opportunities, and it wouldn’t have been possible without everyone at work with me. Being at Japan Travel has shown me that my abilities as an employee are much more versatile than I thought, and that working in the travel industry would be a career path I’d be greatly interested in. I always knew there was a journalism and media aspect at any company but Japan Travel specifically really values community contributions and I think that’s quite special. It’s an organization that is upheld by locals and foreigners alike to portray Japan from all perspectives, not just specifically tourism related. This is exactly the type of environment I imagine myself working in after graduation, and this experience has really opened up a lot of doors for me especially from the aspect of considering work in the travel industry. I’ll keep you updated!

So far, so good!

Sorry to keep ya’ll waiting! Things have finally calmed down so I’ll be able to write here more often :)( To make up for lost time, I’ll write two blog posts this week so you’re all caught up.

My arrival was super hectic and slow. I arrived a day earlier than my IES companions, so I spent the first day in Tokyo at this adorable hotel that our supervisors booked for us. The people at the airport tourism section were incredibly friendly and they helped me find my way to the hotel, and the IES supervisors were awake and tracking my arrival. I’m incredibly grateful for them and how often they checked in with us.

Friends arrived just a day later and we met up with Caleb, one of our IES supervisors and walked to the IES office. We bonded, were walked through a very elaborate and helpful orientation, and then we each went to our respective homes.

I’m staying at a dorm type of situation, with breakfast and dinner provided. Katori-san, another one of our IES supervisors, took the train with me to the location and helped me meet the house mom (who was so incredibly wholesome and welcoming). There were quite a few rules I had to get adjusted to, but it only took a few days, and I was fully settled into my room. The food is great, the other people living in the dorm are very friendly, there’s an onsen in the building, and it’s only a 6-minute walk from the nearest station. I’m incredibly thankful.

My first day of work happened like two days after I arrived so I was very jet-lagged and still wasn’t sure exactly what I’d be doing. I met with the head of the company I’d be working for and we discussed a little what the plans were. Everyone at work was very welcoming and super nice. It’s a travel agency, so the office is a mix between locals and foreigners who speak both English and Japanese. I met the creative director, aka my boss, the next day and we worked out my schedule and what assignments I’d be taking over. Everyone loved the dates I brought from Egypt :)) the office environment is so friendly and quite casual.

I’m in charge of writing articles, editing outdated articles on the Japan Travel website, going to events and covering them if needed, and assisting the main writer of the company. I also occasionally will help with client projects if the sales team needs an extra hand filling out some information or doing research.

So far, I’ve written food guide articles about the different prefectures of Japan, helped with a couple client projects that are very tourism-based, and covered a few events around Tokyo for the website. I still have a while here, so lots more to do in the future :)).

The first weekend, friends and I went to Sensoji Temple and we walked around different streets in Asakusa. It was probably one of my favorite outings during my time in Tokyo, we had such a good time!

Last week, people at work through me a welcoming party on Friday after work and we had a great time just hanging out in the office. We finished an entire puzzle together too :)) it was also the HR director’s birthday, so we had cake and took pictures.

After that day, I met up with friends from IES and we went to Yoyogi park in Shibuya and we saw the Shibuya scramble crossing.

So far, I’ve learned a lot about living here and adapting to all the new systems (I got lost in a couple stations..a couple of times..) and have had the best time getting to know everyone around me :))

Thanks for reading and see you soon!

Getting there..

This is my first blog post for the 2023 Freeman Asia program. I’m currently applying for a visa, completing some online information with IES, and trying to assure my mom that I won’t lose my passport in Japan and never be able to come back home :)) fun stuff.