Wednesday, June 11, 2003
I'd no sooner returned from Hawaii (more on that later) then my Packet from Sakugi arrived. Inside the blue envelope with kanji on it was a contract, a welcome letter, and a "Statement of Agreement" in both English and Japanese. The English was not completely perfect, but it was pretty close. They also gave me my Japan home address (woo hoo!) and school contact information. I like that all my supervisors are women so far. Their quote of rent was a bit higher than I was told before, but still ridiculously cheap. I would have liked more climate information (though they did give me average temperatures) and more advice and other details like what to expect, what Sakugi is like, and what to bring, but it was good anyway (and useful to have in both English and Japanese so I know the kanji names of my workplace and supervisors). I wish they specified somewhere just what I'm supposed to DO with the "Statement of Agreement." I was under the impression from the Consolate that I was supposed to sign and mail the contract back ASAP, however, nowhere in the letter did it say to do that. Anyway, the email address they gave me did not work, so I faxed them (the fax number, including the 10-10-811 and the 011 and the 81 and the area code and number was so long, the display could not hold it). I did not know if they received it until today when I got an email from my predecessor correcting the email address (one letter off). I'm relieved they got the fax (I was worried it would end up somewhere randomly in Japan, so I had written the destination in kanji) because if neither the fax nor the email worked I would have been in trouble. The fact that they went to my predecessor to decode the short fax was sort of worrisome - I didn't think I used that complicated of English and I wanted to know if I needed to send anything. I will send another email tomorrow and hope I get more of my questions answered. Wonder if I should try to send it in Japanese using my laptop (I should test out that theory first since I don't recall that I can read kanji in hotmail). I have the impression it is very busy over there right now.
Anyway, so I now have Ten Million things to do before I go and barely enough time to do them. I'm not sure how I'm going to pull this off. I'm planning on going to Parker, Georgia, and New Jersey before I leave in July and somehow have to finish my winter clothes/supplies shopping, get myself an international drivers license, copy lots of pictures of myself, take more pictures, get them all developed, send myself a care package of foodstuffs (like cereal and taco seasoning), winter clothes, and other necessities, not to mention finish the mural! All this while studying teaching methods, studying Japanese, and finishing some books on my reading list (as well as keeping up with writing group/social life/other stuff). Since July is 99% taken up, I have to get everything done by June 30th. Will I?? I guess I'll have to wait and see.
Anyway, back to other things, my first Hawaii trip ever was fantastic (everyone is jealous and I don't blame them -- I've rarely had a more perfect opportunity presented to me at the right time). The weather was not as hot and humid as I was expecting (the constant breeze saved me there). The beaches were GORGEOUS with jungle-covered volcanic cliffs rising over the sand. I saw lots of fish (even Hawaii's state fish) during our off-the-beach snorkeling and ate even more fish. I'm not normally a seafood person but everything I had was fantastic. Best of all was the great wooden house on stilts they rented. I slept in a loft with a view of the ocean on one side, the jungle on the other, and quite an impressive array of stars at night. I returned without a sunburn, somehow. I do have my fair share of mosquito bites though (they were itching madly during my SFO layover) and I discovered a combination Deet/sunscreen which I think I will buy for my Japan trip since people have recommended both (for the Tokyo orientation) and I normally don't like applying mosquito repellant.
Anyway, Ashley, Emanuel and Amparo all know people doing JET (or at least living in Japan) this year so between them and the Denver-area JETS (who I may try to hang out with this weekend, though if it is like my Mexico experience I will probably get along with the group in my prefecture much better then the group in Colorado) I seem to have a good set of contacts prepared. Yay me! Psyched, psyched, psyched!
Thursday, June 12, 2003
On a whim, I tried to make Hotmail Japanese and, surprising even myself, I managed to! Setting the Country Option to Japanese (and installing at the prompt) was quite easy. Now my entire hotmail interface is in Japanese. Since I installed a Japanese word processor (NJStar: surprisingly helpful), I can input Japanese characters and send an email in Japanese. I sent one to my school (several days later: still no response) but I got the answer to the question I wanted from my predecessor, so I assume the message arrived readable? Still cool stuff.
Monday, June 23, 2003
Big Day: I mailed my Visa Application, two Passport Photos (which were free due to the fact that Kinkos machine broke after the first set, leaving me smiling like an idiot five times in a row trying unsuccessfully to get a second set), and, gulp, my Passport. The FedEx Ladies (and friendly FedEx dog) seemed competent enough to protect my life's belongings here.