Monday, December 8, 2014

Japan 3.0 - Second week

Sad weekend

I had great expectation and plans for the weekend, but finally I had to spend most of the time in my room. What’s happened? I didn't feel well and I preferred withdrawing my plans and taking care of myself. Although I have a private insurance, other than that provided by the university, I wouldn't try if it works, running into a Japanese hospital for an urgent surgery. However, it has been really sad having to cancel the meeting with local friends, who I don’t see since more than a year.

IKEA chopsticks
I had anyway the chance to visit the IKEA in Tachikawa, which was under construction last year. It’s exactly as any other IKEA in Europe, but it sells also bamboo bowls and chopsticks sets. My boss and colleagues from Belgium arrived between Saturday and Sunday and my loneliness finally became bearable.

Second week
The second week of my stay was motivated by a kind of small conference. This is why my colleagues have joined. I’ve repeated the talk I gave in Casablanca, but with one of the possible reviewers of the paper in the room. As in Casablanca, I shared the honour to chair a session with another girl, this time a sweet Japanese scientist.

Unfortunately I missed the second day of the symposium due to the visit to a local hospital. I wasn't feeling any better and the Belgian insurance recommended to see a doctor before boarding an airplane for 13 hrs. A very kind Japanese lady helped me, both supporting and translating. Surprisingly almost none spoke English in the hospital. I don’t want to tell here the whole story, but just that the diagnosis was… not determined, for sure nothing really bad. Good news! Even if I continued to feel sick without knowing the reason. Despite the high cost (perhaps not covered by the insurance, but who cares about money in matter of health?), this was an interesting experience. I’m sorry for the comparison, but I must admit that Japanese hospitals are much better than those in Padova I had experience of.

Despite the situation, I had the opportunity to laugh sincerely thanks to a couple of Italian friends and colleagues, one in Japan and one recently moved to Brunei, which is thousands km far away but only 1 hour difference in time. On Friday I felt a bit better and I joined the final dinner with an important Japanese professor in a luxury Chinese restaurant (I ate almost nothing but it was important to be there). Lovely! Mixing science and food culture, origami (one of my hobbies) and plans for collaborations. This is how conference dinners should be.

The last weekend
Three friends of mine and a colleague were in town on Saturday and I couldn't miss also this opportunity. I felt definitely better so I decided to go to Tokyo to meet them. Finally one of the friends couldn't make it and I had only a couple of hours for chatting with friends that I didn't see since long time, but it was wonderful anyway. My Japanese friend is pregnant for the second time and her older daughter is growing pretty well. The italian friend is trying to come back to Europe. The colleague won't be seen in Brussels for months. Well, I hope to meet all of them again in Europe next time!

In the afternoon I cleaned the apartment where I stayed and packed my stuff. Ready for the last short night in hotel, thanks to my boss, before flying… back. Home? Well, I’ve already discussed this point. I don’t know yet if Brussels is my home, at moment this is very unlikely and not for my will (no hopes of extra funding). The flight went smooth and I enjoyed old and new movies, traditional Bach’s Christmas Oratorio and a glass of wine. As usual I got checked in Frankfurt (I know… I look too mediterranean). It was difficult to stay awake waiting for the connecting flight, but at 8 pm I was already in my bed, in Brussels.


Although sick for half of the time, I loved my stay in Japan. The colors of a late autumn in the gardens, the blue sky, the snow cap on the Fujiyama, the smiling people. I look forward to going back, soon or later.

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