Student wins essay contest, receives Tokyo ‘adventure’

Tessa Carroll

When Jennifer Spink woke up Sept. 23, 2005, she knew it wasn’t going to be any ordinary day.

She was getting ready to leave for Tokyo on a trip she won through an essay contest.

Spink, a 25-year-old senior and computer technology major at Kent State’s Ashtabula campus, won the trip to Tokyo through an essay contest sponsored by animation company Funamation and several other companies.

“I did the essay contest for fun,” she said. “I never really expected to win the grand prize. I only entered because the next prize was a collection of DVDs and gift certificates to some really cool stores, and I wanted to win that.”

The five-day excursion wasn’t the only prize, however. Spink also received $1,000 in spending money and a tour of Sony Studios in Tokyo. She was also permitted to bring along a traveling partner. For this honor she chose her friend Joseph Eriksen.

Things weren’t all smooth sailing for Spink and Eriksen, though.

“We were supposed to fly out of Cleveland, but our flight got canceled because of Hurricane Rita,” Spink said. “We were stuck in the airport for eight hours with nothing to eat or drink because we didn’t have legitimate tickets, and we couldn’t get into the food courts. We did get to be on Channel 3 news, though.”

Sadly, things continued to get worse for the pair once they were in the air.

“When we finally got a flight, it was on a Korean airline that was stopping in Japan to get fuel,” Spink said. “But when we got to Japan our plane couldn’t land because the landing gear was stuck. We spent the next two hours flying in circles over the Pacific Ocean trying to burn off fuel so the plane wouldn’t blow up if we crashed when we landed.”

Eriksen said he was terrified.

“Everyone else was really calm, and no one else on the plane spoke much English,” he said. “Finally, the stewardess came on the loudspeaker and said ‘We will now attempt to land.'”

After safely getting off of the plane, the real fun began.

“We stayed at the Akasaka Prince Hotel,” Spink explained. “It was gorgeous. Extremely luxurious.”

While in Tokyo, Spink and Eriksen spent most of their trip sightseeing and shopping.

“I definitely enjoyed all of the shops we visited. Tokyo was definitely an interesting place to go,” Eriksen said.

Spink experienced little culture shock because Tokyo was very similar to an American city, she said.

“Really, the only difference between Tokyo and New York City is how clean Tokyo is,” she said. “That, and in between the shops they have really cool arcades and things. The city is really geared toward a younger set.”

Another difference Spink and Eriksen experienced on their trip was the food.

“They have American restaurants there,” Spink said. “But while we were there they wanted to take us to traditional Japanese places. Basically, if you like fish and sushi, you’ll be fine in Tokyo.”

For Spink and Eriksen, language was not much of a

barrier, either.

“We had translators with us everywhere we went,” Spink explained. “We didn’t really need to use them much because we always found someone that spoke at least basic English.”

Even with all of the problems on the trip, Spink would love to return to Japan and re-experience all of her favorite things.

“My Tokyo trip was a total adventure. I would totally go again,” she said.

Contact regional campuses reporter Tessa Carroll at [email protected]