Field Studies: Thursday
I woke up at 6:30 and started getting ready for our day hike at 7:00. We had breakfast at 7:30, and after that we met up and took the bus to a park. There were lots of different flying foxes. There were two normal ones where you just hang on the rope, and there was another one that had a cart with two seats to hold more people. After we played for a while, we started off on the hike.
At the beginning I was walking in between Charlotte and Keina, but at some point I ended up next to Kate. We had an hour-and-a-half conversation about all the books we’ve read. I’ve got an endless list of what I have to read now. A few people were scared of heights, like Kate, Zerric and Tomoka, but they were fine when they didn’t look over the edge. When they did look, they were being risk-takers.
When we got to the top of the mountain (finally) we had lunch. When everyone had finished, we split into five groups and played games. We played the square game, zip-zap, twister and the magic hat game.
The way back down was really slippery, and some people fell down. When we got to the bottom we were at a different park, which we played in for a while. Elina even found a four-leaf clover! When the buses came to bring us back to the hotel, we said goodbye to the Evergreen people that we wouldn’t see again.
When we got back to the hotel we had free time to practice our skits and clean up the room. I also called my mom to wish her a happy birthday… so many people (well I guess only two, but whatever) with birthdays during field studies! At 6:00 we went down to dinner, we all had hamburger steaks, rice and soup:). After dinner we went up to our room to have one more last-minute skit practice, and then we came back down to the dining room for our last night party.
All the chairs had been arranged in three rows of half circles so that there was a kind of stage. Tobi’s group was about to perform, when Jade and Alexi walked in with chips and drinks. Each row went up one by one (mine was last ) and got a bowl of chips or popcorn to share with a few people, and a drink each.
The secret word that all the skits had to have somewhere was ‘splash’. After a few skits had finished, it was MATHAL’s turn. Our skit was about Tomoka falling into the lake five times on her birthday (it didn’t really happen). Helen pushes her in because she feels like it, Layna accidentally bumps into her and she falls in, I do some really weird dance moves and bump her with one of them, Mihaela is sleeping and thinks that Tomoka’s an alien from her dream and pushes her (Mihaela actually did have that dream), and Aruna startles her and she falls in. When we were practicing I thought it was funny, but not as funny as the audience did: they were all laughing their heads off!
The rest of the skits were really funny too, I would name my favorites, but that would take too long. The last skit was performed by Jade and Alexi, and it was extremely hilarious. When their skit was finished, we had to clean up everything and say goodbye to Jade. Alexi came back on the bus with us the next day, so we said bye to him later.
We went upstairs, and Tomoka told us scary stories before we went to bed. A while later I went to sleep, sad that field studies was basically over, but excited for my autumn break trip to Hawaii!
Field Studies: Wednesday
When I woke up at 6:00 I read my book until 7:00, when Ms. Cofino knocked on our door to wake us up. We went to breakfast at 7:30 and got ready for the day. Bus 1 went rock climbing first, and bus 2 walked along a river cleaning up trash. We took a bus to the climbing walls and learned everything to do while climbing. I had been rock climbing a few times before, so I wasn’t really scared. We split into four groups: super-confident, confident, so-so, and not really. I decided to go in the confident group, because the hardest wall looked really hard. The wall was about twelve meters high, with lots of bumps which were really hard to get around. When I got to the top of the second-hardest wall I decided to try the hardest, just for fun. I didn’t think I would make it all the way up, but I did it without even stopping once. I didn’t even notice when I finished it!
When it was time for lunch we took the bus to the river bus 2 had been cleaning, and had a barbecue lunch. There were lots of different foods (the chicken was my favorite!) and when everyone was finished we went down to the river. When bus 2 got on the bus for rock climbing, we started the river cleanup.
At first we walked along the road picking up trash, but after a while we went right down so that we were walking in, out and around the water. We were all being caring to the environment when we were cleaning. There were thousands of rocks in it, so we could walk on those instead of through the water. Whenever we got thirsty, we could just drink straight from the river. We walked along the river for at least an hour, and then came to some drink machines for a break. By then most of the people (including me) had forgotten all about cleaning, and just considered it a walk.
We walked along the road and through the woods for at least an hour and a half more, until we reached the Hakuba 1998 Olympic ski jumps. A few of us walked up to them and somebody thought they saw someone going up the ski lift, but it was just a sightseer.
We all went back to the hotel and had a bit of free time, and then went downstairs for dinner. It was delicious: the main dish was chicken with french fries! When everyone was finished we went upstairs to get ready for the hot air ballooning.
We gathered up with the whole grade and walked to a big open space with a hot air balloon flying over it. Everyone got really excited. We split into groups of eight and took turns in the balloon. When it was our turn I could feel my heart beating. To get in we had to have two in, two out, two in, two out, to keep it balanced. I thought I would be a bit scared, but in the end it felt really cool to be flying in the air. The balloon was so big, that there aren’t words for it.
When we got back to the hotel we all went to sleep:
Field Studies: Tuesday
In the middle of night around 2:30 I woke up. Aruna was still awake, because it was so cold. I swear, it was probaly 0 degrees Celsius. I was going to get my sweater, but I didn’t want to wake everyone else up, so I just curled up in my sleeping bag and ignored the temperature.
When I woke up again it was 6:04, and almost everyone else in my tent was awake, so I just decided to relax. When Helen went to the bathroom, she brought back the marker I thought I dropped in the lake the night before. When it was finally 7:00 and we were allowed outside, everyone started sitting down at the tables for breakfast – cereal and bread.
After everyone had finished and cleaned up their breakfast, we had to go up to our tents and put everything away. I think MATHAL (Mihaela, Alina (me), Tomoka, Helen, Aruna and Layna) took the longest to put our tent away. Then everyone on bus 1 (6B and half of 6A) went mountain biking, and the people on bus 2 went canoeing.
First, we chose bikes and helmets, and then we practiced braking and changing gears. After we had done that for a while, we started off on the course. It had a pretty equal amount of flat and steep, but a few of the hills were so long that I felt like I would collapse. One of them was probably a whole kilometer long! When we stopped by a river we got to have a drink. The river came straight out of the mountain, and it tasted sooooooo good. Our group of students had a picture taken in front of the mountains. Towards the end of the course there was a whole section where everything was one big puddle. Lots of people got a bit wet and muddy, but only around the bottoms of their legs.
When we got back to the campsite at last, we had a few minutes to spare before lunch. I played with my friends and wrote in my journal so that I would remember everything I’ve been writing now.
After lunch it was our turn to go canoeing. First, the Evergreen staff showed everyone how to paddle, to sit with the heaviest in the back, the lightest in the middle, and the middle in the front (I was in the front), and how to make the boat go pretty much straight. We got into groups of two or three (Elina and Tomoka were in my group) and we got into our canoes. For a while we just practiced in a section of the lake. Sumin, Francisco and Sean’s boat tipped over right away. I looked in there direction and their boat was upside down with them floating beside. Tomoka was a risk-taker when she stood up and rowed, because we could’ve tipped over. When it got a bit wobbly, she sat down again. We started to make our way around the lake and we almost crashed into rocks about ten times. While we were rowing to the dock where a few of the groups waited for us Aruna, Annamaria, Sophia and Juulia fell into the lake. When everyone had gathered at the dock more than half of the groups decided to go back and play games.
In the end there were only three groups left: Mine, Rhiannu, Charlotte and Josefine’s (RCJ) and Daiki, Tyler and Arunansu’s (DTA). We rowed to an island made completely of rocks (my arms were getting tired by then) which we decided to call Prison Island. (Prison Island is a table in humanities class that you have to sit at alone if you disrupt or something, nobody’s actually been sent there yet.) The rocks really hurt my feet so I had to walk around and sit on my life vest. We decided to pretend that we had to survive there, so I tried to make a stone tool like the early humans did, because of our humanities unit. I got it pretty sharp after a while by scraping it on the edge of a different rock. Somebody found a gummy worm and said it could be bait. While we were there, someone spotted a neighboring island that was really similar to the original, and RCJ decided to go and conquer it.
When it was time to go back to the campsite we had this sort of race between the three groups. I think that RCJ got there first, followed closely by my group, and DTA was way behind, because they kept arguing with each other. We found the rest of our original group playing games with Ms Clifford, and we happily joined until it was time to bring our suitcases and bags to the bus that brought us to our hotel. The Olympic ski jumps were just outside the hotel, and through some windows you could see them.
When everyone was there we all went to our rooms and set up the four futons. There were two floors in the girls rooms: on the first floor there were two beds, a bathroom, a TV and some hangers. On the second floor there was a small table and tatami to put the futons on.
Most of the girls in our grade went to the onsen, and then we ate dinner. Since it was Tomoka’s birthday (she’s already twelve) her mom had ordered a big cake. It was kind of wasted on me though, because I don’t like whipped cream, and that was covering the whole thing. After dinner we went to our rooms and worked on our skits for about an hour. After that we all went to sleep.
Field Studies: Monday
On the first day of field studies I woke up excited and tired (it was 6:00 AM ) We got to school and waited until everyone got to the playground. Then we said goodbye to our parents and got on the bus. I was sitting next to Layna, and we listened to music and played card games the whole time – at one point we played war for an hour! The bus ride was five hours and fifty minutes long, but I didn’t get that impatient until the last half hour. I saw a lake and thought it was lake Aokiko (our campsite), but it wasn’t. The second lake I saw was the right one.
When we got there, we were introduced to the Evergreen staff and ate our lunch. There must’ve been some sort of misunderstanding, because they had prepared lunch for us, but almost everyone had brought their own. After lunch we set up our tents and sleeping bags. There were people helping us because not everyone knew how to set up a tent (including me). Helen was a thinker when she had the brilliant idea of keeping our suitcases in between the actual tent and the rain cover. At first I thought it wouldn’t work because we had six people with suitcases and some were big, but she proved me wrong when it worked in the end.
Our tent with the suitcases in between
When everyone had finished, we all met up and split into groups for orienteering. We all started off with a paper numbered one to eleven, a marker and a compass. The people in my group were Mihaela, me, Tomoka, Helen, Aruna, Layna and Lucy. Ms Clifford and an Evergreen guide came with us too. At first I didn’t really get how to use the compass because of all the different arrows, but after a few tries I figured it out. There were eleven signs along the walk called orienteering points, and the first one told us what compass bearing to take and to collect some things. When the direction changed a bit, there were signs with ‘This Way’ written on them and an arrow that pointed in the new direction.
We followed all of the signs until the 8th orienteering point – that was when we made our mistake. When we read the compass it told us to cut through some grass, so we did, and when we got down the hill on the other side we realized that we hadn’t seen any ‘This Way’ signs recently. Our group decided to retrace our steps and reread the compass when we saw Peter’s group going down another hill (they had told us to go the other way and tricked us!) We had listened to them and gone in the wrong direction after we crossed the grass. We probably wasted almost half an hour with that in the end. The three most important things I learned during the orienteering were to stay together, that you’re only as fast as your slowest member, and to make your own decisions as a group and not just copy other people’s choices.
When everyone was back at the campsite we had a bit of free time. It was really surprising how fast it gets dark in Hakuba, one minute the sun was shining, the next I needed a flashlight. A group of students made dinner, but there were already too many people when I asked if I could help. While everyone was waiting for dinner, Tomoka told me that Eddie and Sean saw a ghost. I didn’t really believe them, but it was still creepy, because there was a shadowy figure inside a shed and there were shoes underneath. Then someone went inside it and there was nothing there. We had pasta for dinner… YAY!
When everyone had finished eating and washing their dishes, we walked to our campfire as a group. There was a pile of wood there and once it was really big we had to wait to roast the marshmallows, otherwise they would all catch on fire. While we were waiting we played some games, like janken (rock paper scissors). Instead of rock, paper and scissors, we used crab, octopus and shrimp, but we had to act it out with our whole bodies. When the campfire had burned out a bit, we took turns roasting our own marshmallows on sticks we found. Even though we didn’t have everyone at once, it was still really crowded. I ate five or six marshmallows in the end, but somebody ate sixteen!
When everyone was done, we walked back to the campsite. While I was brushing my teeth I accidentally stepped in a drain in the kitchen. My shoe, socks (I was wearing two pairs) and foot were all soaking wet. I set them out to dry and thought to myself that it was a really good thing I brought extra shoes! Our tent was a complete chaos before we went to sleep, because Tomoka couldn’t find this, and Aruna had lost that, and someone’s sleeping bag was in the wrong place. The teachers came by our tents and told us to be quiet and go to sleep several times, and finally, about half an hour later we all went to sleep, freezing cold.
Next week our whole grade is going to Hakuba for field studies ! We’re going to do lots of fun activities like canoeing, mountain biking, hiking, rock climbing and hot air ballooning. The first night we’ll camp in tents and have a campfire, but the other three nights we’re staying in a hotel. I hope it doesn’t rain when we’re having a campfire like it did in fourth grade camp. No marshmallows. It will be a break from our normal school life… it’s like a holiday with your friends! The only bad part is that we’ll be on the bus for five or six hours . I’m really looking forward to it – only two days left!