Filed under: Field studies
Community and Service Field Studies
Monday, 15th of October, 2012
Day 1, First of five days:
5:30am. That was when I woke up. I took all of my last minute things, I put on my shoes and leave for Haneda Airport. I went to Terminal 1, Clocktower 4 where I met up with the rest of my grade.
As a large group all of us had to be careful not to disturb other people who might also be travelling to somewhere by plane.
On the plane it was somewhat more calm and orderly than I had expected so I think that most of the people on board the plane with us had a reasonably comfortable flight.
When we arrived at the the Niseko airport we collected our baggage, and almost as if it was a team effort, we managed to get onto the bus in an orderly manner.
The bus ride took 2 hours before we arrived at the NAC, where we were greeted by a lunch of hamburgers. Even though the burgers were already quite cold, they tasted good and gave us the energy that we needed to hike to our campsite.
Straight after we had our breakfast all of our luggage that we didn’t need while we were in the campsite were all stored in a room until we returned.
About 10 minutes after that, we started to hike to the campsite. It started to grow dark rapidly as we moved from NAC to the campsite. The hike was 8 km long and it took quite a reasonable amount of time. It was difficult to tell where we were going, especially because there was a lot of foliage under our feet, not a specific road. As a group we moved quite quickly and as soon as we arrived at the campsite, and we separated into 2 groups.
One of the groups made dinner while the other set up the tents for the night. After about 30 minutes, all of tents were set up and shortly after, all of the vegetables were cut up and the fires were started.
As the blue evening sky turned into the empty pitch blackness of the night, it grew colder and the need for warmth became greater. Getting a larger fire started or even getting some hot curry to eat seemed so more important than ever.
At last after waiting for about an hour the curry was ready to eat. People were racing to get their bowls, so it did not work out as well as people might have intended it to. Maybe if we had formed some sort of line, people might have had an easier time getting organized.
After our dinner of curry we went back to our tents, where some people got ready to sleep and others went to the onsen to take a warm bath in the cold weather. No-one in my group went actually, meaning we had to experience the chaos outside of our tents.
My tent group and I stayed inside our tents, though that was not the case for some other groups. Although at times it was somewhat hilarious to listen to them clown around outside, it gradually became obnoxious when we were trying to get some rest. We aren’t sure what exactly happened, but eventually everyone calmed down and we got some rest.
Tuesday, 16th of October, 2012
Day 2, Depart from the campsite:
We woke up in our damp, unstable tents as the bright sunlight passed through the thin walls of the tent. The ones who were already awake and I woke the others who were still asleep. We were actually woken up by the sound of other people laughing and talking from other tents. I went outside to see what was going on but I was simply informed that it was earlier and that there was still an hour and a half until we had to get up from bed. This may have been a good opportunity to get an extra hour and a half’s worth of sleep, but we took advantage of the time we had to warm up before we had breakfast.
Sandwiches with ham, cheese and all sorts of other foods is what we had for breakfast. I was relieved to have eaten something after that long enduring night. All of us sat by a fire eating away at our sandwiches.
We met up with the whole grade and we got ready for the morning hike. We climbed up an already trodden path up the mountain that led to a road that was wide enough for two cars to go up. Everyone co-operated well to follow the field studies advisor, which was quite beneficial when we didn’t have a lot time.
Although the campsite was lot’s of fun and there was plenty of things to do there, I am sure that I was not the only one who was aching to get into the warmth of the bus.
The bus picked us up at the bottom of the hill of which we were camping on, and took us to NIS (Niseko International School) where we met Mr. Reynolds, our former PE teacher from YIS. It was very nice of him and his wife to prepare a laid out lunch for us. For the first time after the airport, all of us were in a straight line and no-one seemed to be rushing in front of others to get in line. So I would say that lunch at NIS worked out quite well.
After that we were taken to another school, where we were taught how to make Ikebana flower decorations by the students there. They were very helpful and fortunately, very understanding of our limited knowledge about creating these decorations. I think that overall everyone enjoyed and everyone left satisfied with their effort to make their Ikebana flowers.
The bus took us to a pumpkin farm that is owned by a lady who had agreed to let us help her take down her greenhouse skeletons.
Each class had a specific greenhouse that they had to dismantle, so that it would be an efficient process. We all co-operated well to help each other unhook parts, carry the main stems and overall just to take down the green house.
After each class had dismantled 2 greenhouse or so, we were given a pumpkin to make into a jack-o-lanterns. There was a limited amount of knives that we could use so we had to take turns in using them. Again I think that we helped each other well by giving each other the knives every time we were finished with a step. For example when we had emptied the insides we would pass it on to another person.
Shortly after we had taken photos and thanked the woman, we headed to the NAC and had dinner. After about an hour there we went to the hotel that we would be staying at.
It was a relief to finally get indoors and be able to wear new clothes. It was difficult to organize each room because of the little space we had.
It was lights out at 10 and it felt great to finally sleep in some form of blanket.
Wednesday, 17th of October, 2012
Day 3, Biking and Rafting:
We had our first breakfast at the hotel in the morning. There was quite a nice variety of foods to choose from, which was a nice change from the meals we have had at NAC or at the campsite.
The whole grade went to NAC again to be divided into two activity groups. Group 1: Kayaking to an island and hiking on the island assuming that we get to the island in the first place. Group 2: Mountain biking and whitewater rafting.
I was put into to group 2 along with a few of my friends. Straight away we collected our rafting suits and dry suit boots. We also were assigned our bicycles and a helmet as well.
As a group, I think that it was quite unbalanced overall, because of how some people were slower or otherwise faster than others. So the line in which we were going along with was somewhat broken. I don’t think that worked out very well. So some of us had to go slower so that the others could catch up. The whole bicycle ride would have been around 24 km long, though it had to be reduced to about 14 km because of the time shortage that we had.
After the 14 km stop, we headed straight for the white water rafting meeting area, where we met another field studies advisor. We dropped off our bicycles so that he could take them back to NAC for us. Shortly after we had done that a bus picked us up and took us to a nearby soba restaurant where we had a lunch of soba noodles.
Whitewater rafting required more of a team effort overall than biking. White water rafting was also very interesting because if someone had fallen off your raft, it was your responsibility to help them back onto the raft. I think that one of the main reasons why rafting was great to do was because it is an activity where you can never really be let off of your guard, especially because often it can be intense and you can fall off of the raft easily. Although this may have seemed like a difficult activity for everyone I think that everyone did quite well in keeping themselves and others on the boat.
We returned to NAC cold and wet by bus and to make matters worse it was raining hard. Quickly, but not quite as efficiently as we would have liked it to be, we took off our dry suits and a lot of us were surprised to find that the clothes that we wearing under had been affected by the water. After we had changed we went indoors to keep and dry and to warm up.
We ate dinner at NAC again and we all headed back to the hotel with group 1.
The night was difficult to make sense of apart from the fact that many people kept other people up, which to be honest was overall quite annoying. Though I still do see it this way, my roommates too were making noise so I think that everybody was not doing so well in keeping quiet.
Thursday, 18th of October, 2012
Day 4, Kayaking, Last full day:
In the morning after breakfast, we went to NAC again to get prepared for Kayaking. We collected dry suits, boots and a life jacket. The ride to the kayak site took about an hour and a half. When we got there we had to collect a paddle, choose a kayak and get a teammate to go on the kayak with you. I paired up with Pascal, and soon after we were on the water. Kayaking is another sport that requires teamwork in between you and your partner. And because teamwork is so essential, we both have to work just as hard to move from place to place with the kayak.
Eventually Pascal and I were taken by the tide and we were almost 100m or so away from the group. We even had to get an advisor helps us get back because we were so far out that it was difficult for us to get back.
After a while of rowing hard and at a steady pace, we managed to regroup with everyone. By the time we had, the advisory crew had decided that it was best to head back straight away without going to the island. I think that that was probably a good choice because the wind was getting strong and the waves were getting bigger, meaning that it would have been harder to get back later when the wind is even stronger.
From that point on Pascal and I had no trouble getting back, because we were aware of the danger of getting too far out. We often had to change directions so that we did not strafe off to on side and then getting pulled further and further away. I think that kayaking is one of the hardest team effort activities that I have ever done, especially because two-man kayaking is something that I am not familiar with.
We had lunch of tuna or chicken burritos by the large lake we kayaked in. It felt great to get my stomach filled after the tiring efforts of kayaking.
While we waited for staff to pack away the kayaks, or anything else that needed to be packed up, a group of people including my friends and I went for a walk in a nearby park.
This was a great way to explore the outskirts of the lake, and a great way to use time.
Later that day we had our last dinner at NAC, where we thanked the NAC staff for the activities and the food, as we left for the hotel once again.
My roommates and I performed a short skit which had to mostly be improvised, though I think that worked out quite well. We also watched the skits by other people which was also quite entertaining.
We had lights out at 10:30.
Friday, 19th of October, 2012
Day 5, last day – Going home:
The morning was actually quite a rush, because we all had to pack up our bags and put away all of the futon mattresses. This again was a team effort kind of thing, especially because of the time shortage. After about 30 minutes of piling mattress on mattress, we got everything packed away and the bags ready to leave. The bus ride again was about 2 hours long until we arrived at the airport.
It was a rush to get lunch at the airport because we were running quite a few minutes late. Though fortunately my friends and I managed to get back to the group on time.
The plane ride was more peaceful than the way to Hokkaido, of course taking into consideration that everyone was quite tired. We made a last effort to organize who was going home and where and how and then we all left to finally, go home.
Field studies 2012, Grade 8, Niseko, Hokkaido