I can’t believe that just a few moments ago, it has been exactly 1 year since the 9.0 magnitude earthquake struck Japan. I remember it like it was yesterday; that call at 5:30am from my mom telling me to wake up and get my Japanese roommate awake because there had been an earthquake in Japan. I remember arguing with my mom on the phone in my half asleep stupor, telling her that earthquakes happen all the time in Japan and then my mom telling me to turn on the TV in my room and see for myself. It finally registered what happened in my head and I raced into the other room to wake up my roommate, because her family is in Japan and I didn’t know where it had happened yet. All I knew is that I wanted her to know right away so that she could make sure her family was okay. We stayed glued to the TV for as long as we could that day, only stopping to go to class and then meeting right back up in our apartment to continue watching the coverage afterwards. My roommate had her cellphone in hand at all times waiting for that call from her parents in Tokyo to tell her that her extended family just north of Sendai was okay and checking the NHK Japan website for more accurate updates than the US coverage could give.
The days and weeks following were very difficult for both me and my roommate. She didn’t get information about her extended family north of Sendai for a while after it happened and on top of that, her dad was part of the defense army as a doctor and he volunteered to go and help with the earthquake victims shortly after it had happened. I had never seen my roommate cry until this happened and I was there for her every step of the way, even forcing her to come home with me for Spring Break about 2 weeks later because she would have been alone at school and I didn’t want to leave her alone during that time.
Everything turned out okay for my roommate in the end, her family all being okay. Same with all the Japanese exchange students at my school, which totaled 5. Right after that, I ended up getting accepted to Kansai Gaidai University for the Fall semester. My parents were still skeptical about sending me to Japan after the earthquake, but I assured them that everything would be okay because Kansai Gaidai was in the South. I traveled to Japan at the end of August and stayed there until almost the end of December. During that time, I didn’t see any direct affects of the earthquake where I was or traveled, but there was always a sort of somber atmosphere when talking to international students and Japanese students about what had happened over a half a year prior.
I still can’t believe that it has been a year since the earthquake happened. I will never forget what happened on March 11th, 2011 and I mourn with the Japanese people over the loss of so many from what happened that day. My heart goes out to all the people affected by this disaster. 日本頑張れ！日本人は強いと思います。