Blog and opinion
3 July 2018 • Phyllis Fercho
Stirred or shaken?
I couldn’t other but stare eyes wide-open at the ceiling above me. The walls around me moving and shaking like crazy. I think, although I was first asking myself if I was hallucinating, I registered within a split second that it was an earthquake that had woken me up at 7:58 am. Weirdly enough, I felt very calm and didn’t panic. The only thing I kept thinking was ‘ugh, I hope the shaking stops soon and the walls stay where they are’.
The atmosphere during the days afterwards was really strange. On Monday, the day it happened, and even on Tuesday morning I was reasonably calm. Probably because I was surrounded by international students who are very chill and didn’t believe there was going to be another bad earthquake. But when I then talked to my Japanese friends on Tuesday everything changed. I realised that many of them were actually quite concerned, even scared. Several had already experienced strong earthquakes before like the one in Kumamoto two years ago.
So when my best friend told me to be really careful and prepare myself, I started to feel uneasy. I had been shaken and I had been fine until now. But seeing my friends worry got to me and deeply stirred up my emotions and feelings. Walking through the grocery store with unusual empty shelves and picking up food that would stay fresh for longer than my usual veggies, I started thinking whether there was going to be another, stronger, earthquake. I quickly came to the conclusion that imagining the worst-case scenario was not going to help so I went home, my backpack full with muesli bars, canned sweet corn and 7 litres of bottled water.
The chances of a second earthquake are usually highest on the third and fourth day so I felt helpless and like in a trance, knowing that something could happen any time. But the craziness reached its peak at 3am on Thursday when my flatmates and I started to discuss the case of an emergency. And then we started packing an emergency backpack. You might think that this is something normal, especially for Japanese. But for me, it made the danger become real. For the first time since entering Japan, I felt unsafe.
Looking back, I can say that this experience has definitely stirred up my emotions more than I first thought. Call me crazy but I always wanted to experience an earthquake. Now that it happened, I’m not so sure about that anymore. On the other hand, I’m glad it happened in Japan. Because despite the previous experiences making us feel uneasy, a strong sense of community emerged. I know this often occurs during a crisis but if you consider the kindness and the considerate behaviour of my Japanese friends, I don’t think I could have had any better support.
Twenty year old student Phyllis Fercho from Germany is crazy in love with life and all the great things it has to offer. Since graduated from secondary school she lived and worked in England and Italy. Nowadays she is a student International Communication Management. This semester she is studying abroad in Osaka, Japan and will share her experiences with us.