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Last week, I participated in an event about the railway where railway club members and international students introduced railways in Japan and other countries. In Japan, there are a lot of people fascinated by the railway, and sometimes they are misunderstood as people with eccentric interests. But by talking to them directly, I found myself having a newfound appreciation for the passion and knowledge they hold. This event not only made me have an urge to go on a railway trip around Japan but it also reminded me of the longest railway trip I have ever had in my life.

It was 10 years ago when my parents decided to have a family trip to Beijing. Instead of taking a two-hour-long flight from Shanghai to Beijing, we took a sleeper train there. We got on board at 8 p.m. and the train arrived in Beijing at 7 a.m. We bought second-class tickets and each room accommodated 4 passengers, which meant that my family had to spend a night with strangers in the same room. In the beginning, I was quite apprehensive about the whole idea of having to spend such a long time with strangers, but the anticipated awkwardness was never realized; not only did I make friends with the person sharing the room with my family, but also the family staying in the room next to ours.

When the train first departed Shanghai station, many of the passengers weren’t quite sleepy yet. Since most rooms were shared between different individuals, the doors of the rooms were all opened. We could hear how excited people were for their trips. The family staying next to our room was a big family and they also had a daughter. The girl was singing songs for her relatives and I recognized the song because I learned it in music class in elementary school. Instinctively, I started humming as well. My mom encouraged me to go to talk to that girl, and so I did. The conversation started with the song and we talked about our school lives, travel, and so many other things. My parents also started talking to other family members. We shared the food we had, and even played card games together. Later on, we also talked to the young man sharing the room with us; he was a student going to Beijing for college. He didn’t get on the train from the same station as us, so we talked about his hometown as well. After having such a fun night, I slept well on the train. When the sun rose again, it was time to say goodbye to each other. We did not exchange contacts with each other, but the words and laughter we did so the night before definitely helped etch an unforgettable experience in my life.

These days when I tell others about this story, some of them are surprised at how I can be so brave to talk to strangers — something I have never really given much thought to before. Wouldn’t it be more awkward to keep silent in such a narrow and confined space for such a long time? I guess this is what they meant by: “the times have changed”. In a time where electronic devices didn’t exist to kill time, we instinctively turn to human-to-human communication; a time when we weren’t afraid of people. A pity it sure is, that nowadays it just seems like there are fewer people who are curious about all the life around them.


And to help re-ignite this fire within us all, Her Campus Waseda will be bringing to you a special series next week: all things related to travel! From travel guides to recommendations, we’re introducing places and destinations for you to reconnect with your surroundings in these turbulent times. 


Tianyi Li

Waseda '21

A senior student majored in Economics. Interested in international communication and pop-culture. Love travelling and sports
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