After a few days at home, it was time to hit the road again – this time by plane. I’m heading off on an amazing 7-week adventure that will take me to 11 cities in 9 countries….and countless airports. The first stop was Akita, Japan to present at the International Society for Language Studies. I left Lynchburg for Charlotte, NC…to London, UK…to Istanbul, Turkey…to Tokyo, Japan. Once I arrived in Narita International Airport in Tokyo, I had to transfer to Haneda Airport (about an hour away) in order to catch my flight to Akita. After getting to Haneda Airport, I spent a very short night in a local hotel before continuing on to Akita…unfortunately, it was incredibly difficult to find the place and I walked the street by Kamato Station for nearly an hour before finding the hotel only 1.5 blocks from the train station.
The hotel itself was very nice but I was shocked by the small size of the room – only a bed and an incredibly tiny bathroom. It’s a good thing I’m a little guy!
I have to confess that, after flying for 40 hours I was exhausted but totally unable to fall asleep. I just laid in the bed thinking about what time I needed to get up. I finally dozed off for about 3 hours before my alarm woke me to head to the airport for that last flight. Thankfully, Haneda has a Starbucks!
It’s very quick flight to Akita from Tokyo so I was on the ground and at my hotel in less than 2 hours. Unfortunately, the hotel wouldn’t allow me to check in before 2pm so I stored my luggage and started out on the search for food. There are tons of things to do and to eat close to the hotel and this was an opportunity to explore.
This are is close to the Akita Train Station so there are lots of restaurants and shopping areas close by.
The art museum is just up a couple of blocks. This big warrior is outside of the building to promote one of the exhibitions taking place there. I couldn’t help but get a picture!
I met up with a colleague from Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana (who is also attending the conference) and we were able to track down some food in a nice, affordable restaurant decorated in 50’s USA movie memorabilia and USA license plates. The food was great – spicy ra-men noodles with sesame!
After lunch, we had killed enough time to get into a a hotel room…I was looking forward to this! I dropped off my bags, jumped into a very hot shower and let the water run over my body. It felt fantastic!! I stayed in the room for the rest of the day to try and get some rest and to see if I could FaceTime with Cindy. We hadn’t spoken for a few days and I really wanted to hear her voice and see her face.
Later in the evening, I was on a quest to find some chocolate milk before calling it a night and going to bed. I found a “7-11″ type store called Sunkiss only a couple of blocks away. I bought was I THOUGHT was chocolate milk but I was fooled! The brown carton and cow that “suggested” chocolate milk were actually more symbolic of the “coffee milk” that was inside the carton! Definitely NOT what I was expecting!!
After finally falling asleep, I was up early the next morning for the first day of the International Society For Language Studies (ISLS) Conference being hosted by Aikita International University. Higher Education professionals and those who are involved in linguistics and communication were in attendance.
The conference was off to a very good start. Following the opening session, there were dozens of 30 minute sessions being offered for the remainder of the day…and over the next 3 days. I presented with a friend and colleague, Melina Alexander, from Weber State University in Utah. Our presentation was on the use of magic tricks to motivate second language learners to develop and improve their interpersonal and pragmatic language skills. The presentation was very well received and I believe I made some positive connections for the future.
Now that the pressure was off, I would be able to enjoy the next three days of this conference. I attended several presentations – some of them were fascinating and interesting but there were a couple that seemed bit more controversial and “out there.” Still, it was an interesting and challenging conference that provided me with some great insights into the world of “language studies.”
Once again, that night I was back at the “7-11″ for some late night snacks…and this time I bought ice cream. I thought I was buying a very traditional ice cream sandwich; in fact, I was buying something much more! Two layers of vanilla ice cream separated by a thin chocolate bar and sandwiched between to very think waffles – amazing!