Serena in Shizuoka: ESSAYS
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My Hotel Quarantine Experience

Upon arriving in Japan, I had to spend 14 days in mandatory hotel quarantine at a designated hotel in Narita. The hotel all of us Houston JETs were sent to was called Hotel Nikko Narita, a 15 minute drive away from the airport. After 14 hours of air travel and 4 hours of COVID protocols, immigration, and customs, I was more than ready to get to the hotel and sleep. Unfortunately, I had another 30 minutes of hotel quarantine orientation to get through before I could finally relax. Hotel staff passed out papers about the quarantine rules and procedures, and JET program representatives passed out more information about our virtual orientation we would complete during quarantine. We were also given rental phones with instructions on how to download the quarantine tracking app. The app is called mySOS, and it tracks our location while in quarantine. We were required to carry this phone with us at all times. In addition to tracking our location, the app also required us to check in multiple times a day and monitor our health. We had daily temperature checks at the hotel as well. The app would video call once a day to make sure we were in our quarantine location. We were tested for COVID twice during our 14 day quarantine, in addition to the time we had been tested at the airport upon arrival.

The hotel restaurant had my name. Due to the quarantine protocols, we couldn't eat there.

Meals were delivered to us three times a day and they were always served cold. There was something very ‘off’ to me about the food, so I barely ate any of it. Thankfully, we were allowed to go to the Lawson convenience store in the hotel, so I lived off of convenience store food for the two weeks of quarantine. I was so sick of that food by the end of quarantine! The hotel courtyard was available for us too, and although we were told to socially distance from each other, many other JETs gathered in small groups all over the courtyard. I had a view of the courtyard from the window in my room, so I tried to go when it wasn’t so busy to get some fresh air and exercise. I didn’t want to break the rules and potentially be restricted even more than we already were. Even with the amount of freedom we were given, most of the time we had to be in our rooms, and the quarantine routine got old fast. Orientation wasn’t enough of a distraction, and I felt bored and restless. It was also very isolating and for the first time in my life I was alone, with no way to see my family or friends aside from video calls.

This was the best meal we were served in quarantine. It tasted pretty good even if it was served cold.

An example of hotel quarantine breakfast.

Those 14 days of hotel quarantine felt like an eternity, and I was so happy when we were finally released and I could eat a hot meal that didn’t come from the convenience store.