Japan’s rainy season starts in early June and lasts through late July. So when we (Caltech JIP interns) were preparing to come to Japan, we were all emphaticallytold to bring rain gear. Unfortunately for me, I’ve spent most of my life in southern California, an area that experiences little more than a week’s worth of light showers each year. My collection of rain gear features a single flimsy umbrella, which has already proven to be no match against the massive gusts of wind accompanying the rain.
In reality, the rain turned out to be not as bad as I’d expected, though I guess you could say any amount of rain is more than what we get in SoCal. Unless by some fluke of nature we somehow made it through the majority of rainy season without any big storms*, I have been managing mostly fine with my subpar umbrella–and often without it, because the “rain” is more of a very light drizzle quite regularly.
With the exception of Typhoon Neoguri. At the beginning of July, this storm grew steadily in strength until it was categorized, at one point, as a super typhoon. It hit Okinawa like a sledgehammer and as it moved north toward the main islands of Japan, everyone was advised to be prepared for adverse weather conditions over the next few days. The day before it was predicted to reach our area, there was a company-wide announcement warning us about the storm, and my coworkers told me there was a possibility of the trains being shut down or delayed. That night, I fell asleep to the sounds of rain and naturally anticipated more rain and wind the next morning, or at least dreary skies.
Imagine my surprise when I woke up to probably the sunniest, clearest days I’ve experienced here since day 1. When I arrived at the office, soemone led me to the window and pointed out Mount Fuji in the distance, about 100 km (60 miles) away. That’s how much the weather had improved overnight.
In addition to preparing me poorly for the rain, life in SoCal has also taught me little about dealing with humidity. The humidity is around 85% at night and much higher in the daytime. My first attempt at laundry here (hang-drying, as is the norm in many Asian countries) was a bit of a failure since I didn’t have enough hangers, nor a laundry pole. It also turns out that waiting two days for your laundry to dry is slightly more annoying than waiting an hour for the North Houses’ dryers to free up. Oh well, it was a good lesson in patience. Additionally, I should stop taking for granted the comparatively excellent weather we have at Caltech. :)
Let’s face it: the US loves being just a little different from everyone else. The obvious example? Units of measurement. As an international student from Canada, even I have no clue what’s going on half the time when my friends talk to me and use these weird nonsensical units. And I’ve literally lived on the border between Canada and the States for all my life. After a year here, I’ve finally got a sense of how the two systems of measurement compare and how you can more easily get your bearings with these weird units.
After a year spent in “soft-lockdown” at home in Atlanta, and as Caltech students prepared to finally return to campus, I was aboard an eight hour flight towards Edinburgh, Scotland. Since my junior year plans were interrupted by the virus who shall not be named, I’m spending my first term of senior year studying abroad through the Caltech - Edinburgh University International Exchange program. I’ve only been here just over a week yet have been exposed to so many new people, perspectives, foods, and classes.
When the announcement was first made that fall term was going to be online, I started talking to friends and looking for places to live. We were debating locations around the country: California, Florida, New York, etc.. there were plenty of options. Then it suddenly hit me, what is stopping us from going to Hawaii, covid numbers were better and a two week quarentine would ensure that numbers stayed down… I proposed this to my friend and we agreed it would be an amazing experience, but we didn’t want to get out hopes up. A month or so later we still haven’t decided where to live, Hawaii seemed too far and too difficult to plan. But we couldn’t get the idea out of our heads. We spent some time looking into plane tickets, places to stay, etc… and it actually didn’t seem so impossible after all. A couple weeks later and we were arriving here on the big island!