I can’t believe I leave for Japan in less than a month! I admit, I am very nervous to go. I am trying to not let my nerves get the best of me, but I do not know very much about Japan… that is why I took initiative to go to the public library the other day; I rented 2 travel books and one fiction novel about an American woman who voyages to Japan for her husband’s work, and how she deals with the culture shock.
I am learning a lot of things about Japan, including history, culture, customs, geography. As I read more, I am feel very lucky to have been placed in the south. I will get to experience a different area of Japan that most tourists never have a chance to see, as well as travel to Kyoto and Tokyo at the end of my program! (I leave on 8 July, and teach in the south until 28 August, when I will make my way up the country and fly out of Tokyo on the 4th of September).
Here are some of the things I have done so far in order to prepare:
- Applied for medical importation and exportation into the country of Japan. (Did you know that Japan does not allow ANY foreign medicine in or out of the country? So, in order to be allowed to bring in and leave with your meds, you have to do two separate applications for each. They are not that hard to fill out, but they need to be very precise. I am just waiting for my official airline ticket numbers so I can send the application to the Japanese government.
- Informed the bank of my departure, so I can use my credit and debit cards without them shutting down on me.
- Ordered $100 worth of Japanese ¥ (Yen)
- Researched / purchase a Japanese Rail Pass. Similar to Eurail except that Japan Rail Passes have to be purchased outside Japan in an international airport or approved travel agency. Since I will have 7 days to travel after my trip I am purchasing the 7-day rail pass ($350 for adults). Trains in Japan are efficient, yet expensive (like in Europe), so this investment is worth it. In 7 days I can have unlimited train riding access; the pass also works for buses and some ferries (I’d LOVE to go to some island beaches while there if I can). I will finish my research tonight and make the purchase (ouch) tomorrow.
- Paid my Study Abroad bill (a whole whopping $109 to go to Japan…yes please!)
- Acquire a taste for sushi (YUMMY!)
Things I still need to do:
- Pack! I need to pack, or at least start to look at my packing list, and get the things I need, and put them into the backpack I have yet to purchase.
- Buy gifts for my host family. I had a wonderful host family experience in France; I hope Japan will be similar!!
- Contact/verify with the insurance company about my meds- I’ll need 60 tablets (at least!). Also, extend my insurance coverage for my week of travels (ah!)
- Practice/master the use of chopsticks
- Brush up on basic Japanese- I can say, “Hello,” “Good Morning,” and “Thank you very much,” but I would like to master, “How are you?” “I’m fine,” “Do you speak English or French?” “Where is the toilet?” and, “I’m sorry, but I do not speak Japanese.”
I’ll keep you all updated as things get closer, but it’s sure exciting that it’s getting so close! I’ll admit, everything has been easier the second time around going abroad!
29 days until departure,