The main campus building was just across the street, as the telephone booth guy had said. It’s a five-story bright-yellow building with a large “Felix Martin University” sign on it. I got onto Fountain Road, then made a left on Park Street. There were several tall buildings on the left and a huge field of grass with trees on my right. This must be the first time I’ve ever walked amongst so many trees. The air is so fresh that my lungs felt rejuvenated.
A man waved at me in front of a low-rise building. “Good morning! Mr. Winfield.” He wore a white dress-shirt and dark dress pants.
“Good morning, sir!” I waved back.
“Hello. I’m Sakura. The manager of the Logan dormitory. Nice to meet you!” He welcomed me with a warm smile and a formal bow.
“I’m Mark Winfield. Nice to meet you too!” I bowed in return.
“Yes, Kubota san told me about you. Come on in. I will show you the dorm and your room.” He led me through a set of glass doors. “You need to take off your shoes here and place them inside your locker. We have prepared slippers that you can wear, or you can use your own.”
“Thank you, sir.” I was given the key to my locker and stored my shoes inside.
“Please don’t call me sir. You can call me Sakura san.” He showed me to the reception desk. “I just need to see two pieces of ID from you to check you in.”
“Yes, sir…I mean, Sakura san.” I gave him my passport, driver’s license, University acceptance letter, and reservation letter from the dorm.
“So…you’re from America?” He asked when he looked at my passport. “You’re a very lucky boy to have grown up there.” He turned around to use a large machine. “Hmm…How do you like Japan so far?”
“Um…I just arrived this morning. So far, I’ve seen lots of trees and grass, and the air is super fresh.” I answered nervously, afraid that he’d see right through my fake identity.
“Hahaha!” He burst out laughing. “You’re the funniest American I’ve ever met. And your Japanese is quite good.”
“Thank you, Sakura san.”
“This the key to your room. It’s room 305 on the 3rd floor. Could you please sign here? …yes, great! Now let’s go for a tour.” He walked me through all the hallways in the dorm building and showed me every corner of shared space. “You must be sure to respect your fellow residents in this dorm. That way, all of you can have a good time here.” After a thorough lecture on all the rules I must follow whilst living here, I was finally led to my room. “Well, Mr. Winfield, I hope you’ll enjoy your stay here. Don’t hesitate to contact me if you need anything.” He handed me my room key and disappeared before I had a chance to thank him.
“Thank you, Sakura san.” I bowed to thank him anyway.
The feeling of homesickness suddenly struck me when I lay down on my bed. What will the next few months, or even days, of my life be like? It’s one thing to have read everything about this place in books, but quite another to actually be here. Will I be able to adapt to all the inconveniences of this society? It seems like such a daunting task! The light on my device flashed. A new message from Advisor 223.
‘Tasks for today: 1. attend the welcome day event at Felix Martin University. 2. Purchase textbooks and writing material. 3. Purchase a cell phone and laptop.’
“Hey, 7061! Everything alright?” Advisor 223’s face projected out of my device. Oops, I pressed the call button by accident.
“Yes, everything’s fine.” I forced a smile on my face.
“Do you have something to report already?”
“Umm, not much, except for there was a really nice guy working inside the telephone booth. He helped me find my dorm.”
“What? No one works inside telephone booths.” He couldn’t contain his laugh. “Are you sure you were in the right place?”
“But there was someone inside the one I arrived in.” I explained. “His name was Kobuta and he knew the dorm manager of the dorm I’m staying at. Thank you for planning everything out so perfectly!”
“Hmmm….that’s strange…” He didn’t look convinced. “Did you see a sign on the telephone booth?”
“Yes, it said ‘Koban’.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yeah. Here!” I sent him the photo I snapped.
“7061, that’s a police box!” He looked at me with a serious face. “How on earth did you end up inside a police box?”
“I don’t know. I just stepped inside the portal, and voila, I was there. It was faster than the blink of an eye.”
“Hold on, let me check.” He was back in a few moments. “This is unbelievable! Someone in our research department mistook the ‘Koban’ as a telephone booth. I need to make a report immediately!”
“Advisor, if I remember correctly, I think you told me that you did the research yourself because this was an important mission.”
“Did I say that? Haha!” He scratched his head with a nervous smile. “Good job for arriving safely! Something urgent just came up, I’ll have to talk to you later!” And with that, he disappeared.