2 Days Left and a Box Shipped

As of March 1st 2011 I officially have 2 days left until my departure.  The past couple of weeks have been great.  No work, preparations, hanging out with friends and family, and just relaxing when I wanted to.  Now it’s crunch time and honesty I don’t have too much crunching to do.  Although I don’t think I planned my preparations perfectly it did run smoother than I thought.  Yesterday was probably the most stress I felt out of the whole month.  I shipped my box of summer clothes and other personal items to my school in Japan.

Old日本のShipping Labels

One thing to keep in mind when shipping a box.  Weight is what matters!  I felt like I re-packed my box about 5 times because I kept taking things out and putting it back in to make sure I wasn’t over-packing.  The more it weighs the more you have to pay.  At first I went to the closest UPS to check how much it will cost to ship and after lugging the box to the store they told me it was a whopping $500!  In my mind I was like “HELL NO!”  The guy helping me was kind enough to mention that the US Postal Services would be cheaper.  As apprehensive as I have been with USPS I took the man’s advice and lugged my box back in my friends car and went to the nearest Post Office.  Luckily for us it was only around the corner.  One hour with a very nice patient lady later I ended up paying a whole lot less.  Think more like $300 less.  Yeah, I was surprised.  When I did my online research I was misguided somehow to think that USPS would be a whole lot more expensive.  It worked out in the end but at the time my stress was high.  It also probably had to do with the fact I was hot (unexpected mild day), sweating, and very hungry (breakfast wore off).

Packing is a pain and who has ever gone through it knows my pain but I do recommend doing it little by little for a month.  That’s if you don’t have a house full of stuff.  I mean, I only have to worry about myself and my frivolous things in my little Brooklyn apartment.  In other cases it’ll probably be more than just one month.  I surprised myself thought, that I was able to throw out so much junk, donate about 6 BIG bags of textiles (clothing and such), and pack 2 suitcases, a carry-on and a box.  Now that’s what you call “purging”.  I did end up having 3 bins left of stuff (I can’t fully remember what’s inside right now) and gave them to my dad to store at his place.  Glad to have family to help out.  I wouldn’t know what to do if I didn’t have them.

Besides that I said my final farewells to my family yesterday and today my friends.  The great thing about this day in age is that I can be physically gone but virtually still around.  I won’t disappear as long as they keep in contact as well.  As for my next post, I am not sure if I’ll have internet access for the week I’m in the hotel for training but I will make sure to document about my first week in Japan somehow.  I know for sure I’ll have internet in my new apartment.

Anyhow I will enjoy these last two days in the US. じゃ、またね!Laters!


Time Flies! 時が早いね!

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“Why Japan? Why Japanese?”

I figured I should write an entry like this before I keep writing and writing and then forgetting to explain why I chose Japan and  Japanese.  Honestly there is not one reason but many.  The love of anything can build and build till one almost forget why they even started liking it in the first place.  So when I get asked “Why Japan? Why Japanese?” my mind goes blank.  Then my mind’s memories rewinds like a VHS (ya’ll young young people don’t know what that is lol) and  I start thinking of possible reasons but not one can be the sole reason.  They all seem to link to each other.  If one reason is left out the other is almost random.

Anyway here goes….

Most people I have encountered say the first thing that made them start loving all things Japan was “anime”.  For some they either become “otaku” or a level headed enthusiast.  Although I was also introduced to anime at a young age (Sailor Moon, Dragon Ball, Tenchi, Pokemon ect.) I am more of an enthusiast.  I occasionally like “nerd” things like anime and manga but I’m more interested in the beauty of Japan.  What includes my idea of Japan’s beauty? I consider it to be the rich culture(history), the land itself, and definitely the language.  All three of those reasons ultimately is why I chose Japan/Japanese.

For all those who are a little more visual here (me mostly lol) here is a timeline of how my interest in Japan grew:

Ages 10-16:
watched anime shows and movies with brother (who introduced it to me)
watched brother play Final Fantasy games
tried to learn Japanese for a week. wasn’t serious at all. gave up -_-
ate a lot of Japanese food with family
learned how to eat with chopsticks (the wrong way lol)

Ages 17-19:
still occasionally watched brother play Final Fantasy games or Japanese made games
read book “Memoirs of a Geisha” (LOVED IT!!)
watched the movie “Memoirs of a Geisha” (LOVED IT!!)

Ages 21-22:
around this time in school I didn’t pay much attention to things Japanese but I saw a girl study for Japanese and got upset that I didn’t know my school offered that class.  Also another acquaintance I knew was off to Japan for an exchange partner.  Was jealous that I couldn’t study abroad because of my scholarship for track.

Ages 23-now:
January 1st 2010 I decided to make a REAL New Year Resolution that would stick.  LEARN A NEW LANGUAGE!  Why not Japanese!
Started studying, listening to Japanese music, watching anime again, and started watching Japanese dramas/TV shows (omg LOVE!! –nerd moment–)
re-watched “Memoirs of a Geisha” (I dislike it now! lol most the actors are Chinese and they speak English the whole time. How ironic to dislike it now huh)
Joined meetup.com to meet people who are studying Japanese
Made Japanese native speaking friends
Got an exchange partner from conversationexchange.com

Within a year a lot has happened.  Below is a smaller timeline of how I ended up getting the job in Japan:

Spring 2010
decided to save to travel to Japan
thought about being an English teacher since my friend did it
September 2010
applied online to be an English teacher in Japan
October 2010
interview (in NYC) and acceptance to work in Japan in Osaka!!
January 2011 (end of month)
finally got COE and Visa
February 2011 (early in the month)
told manager I’m leaving and two weeks later she tells everyone else

I’m doing my last stage of preparations. (still about 1.5 weeks left)

Amazing how a year can go by so fast.  That’s why I know I’ll probably think about staying longer than just one year.  Especially if I like the area.

So that’s pretty much it.  It’s still hard for me to really just sum it up when someone asks me in person but it usually ends up being because Japan’s history and culture is beautiful and fascinating to me.  There are other countries I am fascinated about as well but just not as much as Japan right now.

Japanese Kimonos mixed with African taste

African born, Tokyo based designer, Serge Mounage.

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Getting Closer and Closer…

I wish today (2/11/2011) was my last day of work.  I had told my manager 2 1/2 weeks ago that I was leaving and that my last day would be the 18th.  At first I had planned to say the 11th but changed my mind because I like my manager a lot.  I wanted to make sure when I leave that I didn’t leave behind a lot of work to be done.  Plus I need the money.  LOL (I swear this isn’t the main reason…or is it?).

so tired 超疲れた

For anyone who plans on or is even in the process of moving to another country, start packing/sorting a month in advance.  Depending on how much stuff you have it’s best to be ahead.  Procrastination is my secret lover and I must say, he’s not treating me so well right now.  I have to break away.  I did well since my last post but the following week all I kept doing was getting home late and sleeping with my work clothes on.  Not a good look. Besides that it is best to make a list of things you need to buy and pack.  I have done this many times, simply because I like to waste paper. No not really but I am very forgetful when I write on piece of paper.  I lose the darn thing days after writing on it.  Why not use your phone’s notepad you might ask.  I do and guess what?  I forget to write in it and then I write on a paper and forget where I place that to combine the list.  So it becomes a really bad cycle.  I do use sites like Evernote.com but for some reason I like to see things on paper.  I’m a hot mess (-_-).  Anyway, whatever works for you to organize your stuff, USE IT!! By all means get organized and please please kick procrastination away for awhile.  Bring him/her back after you have settled in to you’re new country.

I know everyone’s situation is different but for anyone who collects “stuff”…stop.  Do yourself a big favor and only keep things that you need.  I think it’s best that way if you are a traveler or know you don’t stay in one spot for more than 2 years.  As for me it’s been that pattern for over 6 years now.  I must thank my parents for starting this trend in high school.  I’ve learned my lesson now since graduating college and now preparing for this Japan departure.  With me living in a small space and uncertain of my living in the following year I vow to be more like a minimalist and less like a beginner hoarder.  I’ve seen the show Hoarders and I will NEVER get to that point.  I just know I get anxious sometimes when it comes to throwing things out.

Anyway, this weekend I will be busy cleaning out a lot of things I didn’t get to do last weekend.  Next week is the last week at my recent job!! Yay!!! I like a lot of people in there and really really disliked (close to the big H word) a few.  Either way I learned a lot working there.  I will never forget it.  I must credit the internet for the ability to keep in touch with people across the world.  I know people criticize Facebook and Twitter and so on but if you use it correctly it’s a great tool to KEEP IN TOUCH! Then there is also email but that could be too personal when you just want to type a quick hello to someone you weren’t too close to in person.

じゃ、I hope I can successfully do everything in time.

I want to go! 行きたい!

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✔Check, Check, and Check…

I got a lot done today and I’m 超嬉しい (EXTRA happy).  I’m just checking my task list away.  After going into work early today which is rare I left 2 hours early (another rarity) to go to the Japanese consulate and apply for my visa.  It was super easy.  Since I already had the paperwork done beforehand all I had to do was give them the papers, they reviewed it, I signed it and BAM! I get a receipt to pick it up 3 days from now.  Talk about quickness.  My brother was giving me a different story when he had to get a visa for Brazil (aka Japan is better lol).  Well I think in my case is because of my company.  I’m not totally sure but either way I don’t have to pay a fee and it’ll be done within 3 days.


Didn't wait too long

After that semi short visit I did some other minor errands, stopped by Kinokuniya for a half hour then went to Kmart.  I searched for a good 10 minutes in Kmart for a suitcase. Now I won’t say I’m a cheap person since there are times I do buy good quality stuff but I can’t see myself buying expensive items all the time.  Especially when I’m on a “budget”.  I put those in quotes simply because my budget means “buy-each-item-below-$50”.  I don’t think my budget makes total sense but it makes me feel better about myself and I do save a lot at the end…some how lol.  I ended up finding the lowest price of luggage. It’s a MEGA duffle bag! It says so on the box.  I’m going to try it out and see if it works.  Out of all the traditional looking pieces of luggage the duffle bag was the biggest and 30 buck-a-roos!  Me likey!  It is definitely below my “below $50” budget.  I’m so proud (*^.^*).

About another half hour or so later I met up with some friends and had dinner with them.  One of them is Japanese and she is going back to Tokyo this Thursday.  She was in New York for 3 months and doesn’t want to go back just yet.  Luckily for me when I’m Japan I know another person.  Although it’s about a 3 hour train ride from Osaka to Tokyo, I at least have her there. Plus she is already thinking about “hooking” me up with some friends.  She even said “good looking” guy friends. ::chuckles::.  I swear every person, doesn’t matter if they are Japanese or American say that when I go to Japan I’ll snag me a boyfriend (Japanese or English speaker lol).  I honestly don’t want one right now.  If it happens it happens but let it be after some months of me enjoying Japan while I’m single.

So when I got home afterwards I opened my mailbox and found a GOLDEN surprise.  I received a Hallmark card from my school.  Inside the card were ten boxes drawn and inside each were little notes from my new coworkers.  Each note gave me warm feelings inside.  One teacher said “You’re gonna love working here.  Consider yourself extremely lucky” another said, “We’re really looking forward to workin’ with you” and one that really made me feel all warm inside said “We are planning to have your welcome party on the 19th“! As the Japanese would say when surprised “ええええええええ” (eeehhhhhh).  Yes I’m surprised.  I didn’t think there would be a “party” for me.  Well in that case I’m glad I recently bought two nice dresses (^_^).  It was originally for work but I realized they were too casual for work (-_-) (floral designs are not conservative).  Too fashionable.

超嬉しい!SUPER Happy Time

I will be writing my response letter and mailing it out next week.  I want to make sure I get a really cute card too.  I want to OUT-cute them!

Anyway I’m going to try and pack all my clothes in my new MEGA duffle bag and live out of that until my departure.  Everything else (aka the rest of my “junk”) I must figure out how to properly throw away, give away or save for storage. ::sigh:: 頑張ります!

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31 days till departure…

Yes, this is correct.  I have a month left in New York.  Am I completely ready? No.  I still have to buy a new suitcase, buy some clothing, sell some clothing, and mentally prepare myself for goodbyes and new beginnings.  I have been procrastinating for way too long and I thought I wouldn’t.  Now that I only have a month left I can’t.  If I do then I know I’ll be forget some things or bring too much.  Both are bad.

Although I already bought my one-way plane ticket for March I still have to get my visa.  That might sound crazy to some because when I told my brother he was in shock that I didn’t get it yet.  My company (which will remain nameless) told me to buy the ticket now since my COE (Certificate of Eligibility) was on it’s way in the mail.  That was last weekend when they told me that.  So I had bought the ticket last Monday and got the COE in my hand on Wednesday.  Tomorrow or Tuesday I plan to go get my visa.  I’m just following what my company told me.  They have been doing this for years so I should listen to them.

Other than that I still need to quit procrastinating.  Writing this blog entry isn’t helping that matter but I want to try to write frequently even if it’s not everyday.  I’m not sure how my schedule will be but I will at least write once a week when I’m in Japan.  Anyway, I’m going to get off the internet and put some old clothes that are unsellable in bags.  I’m going to give these clothes away to www.grownyc.org/clothing.  So glad I found them because I can’t see myself throwing away clothes.  I think its immoral. 

Click to read Tumblr post about COE arrival

(the mail has arrived!)

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The Next Chapter in My Life…

I’m not entirely sure where to start…but I will come out and say this.  I am a new English Language Teacher for Japan!  I will be working in a conversation school while living in Osaka.  I am from “upstate” New York and currently living in Brooklyn.  I am dark skin with dreads and glasses.  I love to socialize, be active, and read.  The internet is one of my favorite intangible things.  Meeting new people is awesome and learning Japanese is fun.

I plan to record this new chapter in my life through this blog.  As of now I have my plane ticket to leave New York on March 3rd and to land on Japanese soil on March 4th.  I will enter this new land with an open mind and hope to learn many new things.  For now my (renewable) contract is for 1 year but I plan to stay for 4 years.  It is kind of like going back to college although this time I am teaching as well as learning “languages”.

I have read many blogs in this matter but I hope to bring something refreshing to this internet atmosphere.  I don’t believe I am the greatest writing but I do want to share with the world my experiences living in a different country.  I have never lived outside of the east coast of America.  I have traveled to many states in America but not many countries.  My family is from the Caribbean and I have been to that very island a handful of times.  Now it is time I travel to another hemisphere.


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