Monday, March 21, 2011


Just wanted to let every one know that I'm safe and living in my apartment in Asahi-ku. The only Internet I have is via my android phone. More info later when I can actually type.

Monday, March 14, 2011


I'm finally leaving. I heard from my friend Tomomi, who was at school when the quake and tsunami happened and she is fine. All of my friends are fine.

I was supposed to leave this morning, but last night I chickened out and called the airlines to see if they would let me hold off from flying for a day. They didn't put up a fight and rescheduled me to fly tomorrow morning. Same flight numbers. Same times. Different day. Bizarre.

I'm worried about the lack of food. I'm worried about the continued aftershocks. I'm worried about the power plants up north. I'm worried about the rolling black outs. I'm worried about my luggage and getting to the hotel and all the little things about traveling... but I'm still going.

I'm going because I believe I'm going to be safe. I don't think international flights would still be going to and from Japan if they felt that Japan was that unsafe of an environment. I'm going because my company feels it is safe for me there. I'm going because not only my company needs me, but because my school districts need me. I told them I would be there and I'm not backing down on my promises. I truly don't feel like I'm going into a war zone. If my placement was up north, I wouldn't be going.

My father doesn't want me to go. My aunt doesn't want me to go. My grandmother doesn't want me to go (she never did in the first place). I'm still going.

I've taken some extra precautions before leaving. I'm bringing water, 2 bags of trail mix, and a flash light with extra batteries. I will be calling the airport tonight before leaving to ask which train lines I can take and which ones would be the best to take, since a lot of the lines aren't running due to the lack of electricity. I've printed off a list of emergency contact numbers and some common emergency terms should something happen.

I know things will be hard when I first arrive. This obviously isn't how I planned how my trip would take place. I will try my damnest to try and keep contact with my family and update this blog when I first get over there. For now my heart is in the country of Japan and in 31 hours my body will be too.

It's time to start the adventure of the 23rd year of my life. がんばれ。

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Travel Plans

I woke up yesterday morning with an inbox flooded with messages asking about my safety. A lot of my friends thought I was already in Japan. As most of you know, I'm supposed to be leaving on Monday. I had no idea what was going on when I first woke up. I've been sick due to a sudden allergy attack and have been sleeping in later because of it. As I turned on the tv and started reading my twitter feed I was horrified. All day yesterday I stayed glued to the tv, worked on a freelance painting I needed to finish, and tried to get a hold of my friends in Japan. I still haven't heard from my friend Tomomi, who is going to Tohoku University in Sendai, Miyagi. I'm very worried about her.

I'm in constant contact with a lot of my co-workers/ future co-workers on a daily basis due to facebook and an Interac group on there that I'm apart of. One of the members, who happens to work in the head office, said this:

"I'd like everyone to think about what's been in my mind the last few hours:
'The Kids Will Need You'
I believe this is true; and now, more than ever before, Japanese children will be looking for something good, positive, and fun in their lives. We can be that.
Give you heart to them. Don't give up."

I continued packing today. The Yokohama branch emailed me telling me this:

"Most flights to Narita airport are out of schedule still now.
Would you watch out what happens to your flight, and keep
us updated?

The earthquake caused many people in Tokyo/Yokohama
to going back home, but everyone here is OK, and preparing
for the orientation starting on Mar 21."

I was relieved to hear that everyone in the Yokohama branch was OK. I've been watching NHK and CNN non-stop. My heart is with the people of Japan. I will be with you all soon and I hope I can help in whatever way possible.

Friday, March 4, 2011

My Apartment!

I'm ridiculously excited right now! My apartment has been secured! So after a lot of confusion, anger, cultural barriers, and linguistic misunderstandings, my housing has been finalized! One huge chunk of stress I don't have to worry about! I will be living here (google map image is the only one I have b/c the listing was taken off the website):

My place will be about a 10min walk to Kibogaoka station and a 14-18 minute train ride to Yokohama station. It's located in the Asahi ward and is a whopping 13.5 square meters! It has a loft bed, bathroom, air conditioner, fridge, 1 stove burner, and coin washer (that I have to share w/ the other tenants). The best part about the place is that it has fiber optic internet. :P

Aside from the apartment, I've spent time comparing furniture expenses should I have to buy things new from several websites. I'm hoping to be able to get some things at sayonara sales, but it's always good to have a back-up. Things are moving along pretty fast at this point. It's hard to believe I'm leaving in 10 days. It's hard to believe I'm turning 23 in 5 days. Crazy life.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

CoE, Visa, and a Busy Week!

Early on Monday (President's Day), my Certificate of Eligibility (CoE) arrived in the mail. My dad had to sign for it because I wasn't home, but I got it! Here's what mine looks like. I blocked out the important details for security purposes. Let me just say, I'm really glad I've been losing weight since the first photo was taken. ^_^

After work on Monday, I received my TB test. Not feeling too great (I'm terrible with needles) I called the embassy only to realize it was closed (yay for federal holidays!). On Tuesday morning, I was awoken by a call from the Japanese Embassy. They answered all of my questions so I could make sure I had everything I needed to get my Visa. On Wednesday morning, my mom and I drove downtown, presented my CoE, passport, photos, and filled out visa form to the nice ladies at the Japanese Consulate office in Houston. We decided to have my passport mailed back to me since gas prices were skyrocketing and it was more convenient not to have to go back down there. When we got back from downtown (and a quick little trip to the galleria) I had to get my TB test read. I'm negative for TB! Yay! Of course, the day after I got my test read, my arm turned red around the injection area and it still looks like a bug bite. I hate having sensitive, Irish skin.

I worked another half day on Friday and went to the bank after work. Realizing that the exchange rate is sucky, I got a little nervous knowing that I would have to earn even more money than I thought I would. Thankfully, I got a commission from word of mouth (I have good friends) and I've been working on that since Friday. I also received a small sketch commission, which might lead to a larger piece, but for the moment was enough money to put into paying for some skype credits. Financially, I think I am going to be ok (assuming I get another 5 or 6 substitute teaching jobs before I leave). *crosses fingers*

Yesterday, I picked up deodorant; the last thing I needed before leaving for Japan. Knowing that I had everything I needed for the trip (packing wise) made me feel pretty awesome. I'm slowly going down my checklist. Today, my mom came home from her handbell class and handed me the yen she picked up from the bank! So another thing was done! The other thing that happened this morning is my passport with my visa arrived! Here's what it looks like. The folded piece of paper on the other side is the CoE stapled in my passport. I think I'm required to have both pieces of information in my passport for validity. Again, things are blocked out for security reasons.

I have to say it's pretty funny that they cut my picture into a circle. I don't know why they did that. On another note, my housing has been resolved (so I think). I will post more information about where I will be living once it is completely verified. There are some loose ends (work, finishing commissions, finishing altering some clothes, sewing my coat, packing), but those won't be resolved until a couple days before I leave. Right now, I'm happy that the things I once found problematic are resolving themselves with time and effort.