Posts from the ‘Getting Ready to Go’ Category


I can’t believe that I’m leaving so soon! It still feels completely surreal. I guess it won’t be so much when I get up at 1:30 to leave for the airport.

I’m so nervous! My next post will be from Japan!


Countdown to Liftoff:….6….

6 days.

It’s hard to believe.

Everything’s been a flurry, trying to gather everything together with so little time left. That’s why I’ve not been blogging – but don’t worry. It’s a long trip across the Atlantic, so I’ll have plenty of time to write my next post.

Today I did something important that every traveler going outside the U.S. should do – prepare to come back in. Since I’m studying abroad, I’m taking some expensive stuff with me! In order to not pay duty on the stuff I already own, I registered my electronics with the local Customs and Border Patrol, including my camera, which is probably worth about $50. If that.


Nevertheless, I think it’ll prove invaluable.

Technically, I should be packed by now. But I’m not even close. The problem is – well, I’ll just say it. In its stores, Japan mostly has small clothes and shoes, and I’m not even close to small, which means that I really ought to take all the clothes and shoes I think I’ll need for 9 months. That’s kind of difficult. So here’s the progress so far:


In perfect dimensions for the maximum size allowed.


Gotta pare it down.


Well, it’s getting there, folks. Tomorrow I might start putting stuff in the suitcase. I’m hoping to only take one so that I don’t have to deal with two gigantic bags, but we’ll see.

It’s hard to fit a life in one 62 linear-inch bag.


Countdown: 6 days.

I got my visa!

Excitingly, FedEx came through and got my visa to me last Thursday. I was going to take a picture of me holding it (with important stuff blurred out), but I figured pictures of government documents on the internet would not be a great idea. It’s kind of the final thing, really, that solidifies what I’m doing. Now all I have to do is pack. It’s crazy – such a huge trip happening so soon. I’ve finally started packing, dragging out the large suitcase I used last time I went to Japan and weighing it.

I said a final goodbye to a lot of friends yesterday, which was saddening, but not too much. I’m getting a little less excited and more nervous. I have two connections on my way across the world, each less than 45 minutes. Boarding starts a half hours before leaving, and for the international flight, you have to be there a half hour beforehand, because boarding starts at least 45 minutes before leaving. There’s nothing like running across an airport to make a flight.

I had to book these flights so closely together in order to get to the Kansai airport by 6:00 pm and avoid a 12-hour layover. Why 6:00? So that the representatives of the university and van would be able to pick me up. The only problem is that any delay could cost me the trip. No pressure, right?

So I’m probably more nervous about getting to Japan than I am about living in Japan.

On a brighter note, the New York Times stated that the Japanese economy is improving.

You can read the article here. I guess unemployment has been pretty high recently, but hopefully things will get better as the U.S. economy improves.

Hm. I need to continue packing, I think.

2 weeks to liftoff.

Steps Towards Takeoff

So I’m on the train to Boston to get my visa from the Japanese embassy there. Its kinda awesome – the train has wifi, unlike certain modes of transportation I can name. The “Downeaster” train by Amtrack goes from Portland to Boston with stops on the way, and I’ve never been on it before. It’s meant for people to take day trips to Boston along with other uses, which is exactly the purpose I’m using it for. (I got up at 2:30 am in order to get to the train and get to Boston by 8 am). It’s a pleasant way to travel.

On my previous trip to Japan (yes, I’ve been before.) I didn’t need to visit the embassy, because I was going temporarily – you can somewhat easily get a 90-day visitor’s visa. Where I’m going for 9 months, it’s a little more complicated.

But now I’m finishing my post on the way back. I got to the embassy right when they opened, because I was expecting a line of people, like there are at American embassies. There wasn’t. I handed in my paperwork and left the Federal reserve building. The whole thing took less than 15 minutes. Incredible. So I’ll be getting my Japanese visa within the week, if all goes well.

So my mom and I had an entire day in Boston. It was awesome. We decided to go to the aquarium, which was overpriced ($21) but well worth it. My mom told me the price was never going to go down, so we ought to go while we were there. They have really great stuff. The penguin exhibit is thrilling. We watched them for hours.

The thing about aquariums is that they’ll always have lots of little kids. It’s not an art museum. You just have to take it in and don’t rush. But it was great. One thing was, though, that people would take lots of pictures. Fish don’t photograph well. If you use flash, it bounces off the glass. If you don’t, it’s too dark. But everyone was holding their camera up to the glass like they were going to catch something no one else would.

It’s better to just watch the fish. Memories are better than pictures.

But if you’re going to capture something of the experience, video is the way to go. You can get a far better quality with video than with a picture. Take this one, for example that I took at the zoo in Washington D.C.:

 So -25 days left.