Friday, November 16, 2012

Fiasco

Here is a special little post about yesterday's fiasco. As you know Tuesday morning I purchased my ticket to go to Japan. However, yesterday I received an email from the program coordinator saying that we should arrive on January 27th, not January 5th as the acceptance letter says.

This close to departure finances are tight. While I would have reveled in this news had out come two days earlier, yesterday it came as a matter of panic. The minimum charge to change international flight dates is $250. If I changed the date I would be or $250 for my trip. If I went ahead and left early, I would have nowhere to love for that 18 day time period and hotels are even more expensive than flight change fees.

To put it simply, rock met hard place yesterday.

Thankfully I do have one SUPER AMAZING FRIEND who now lives inTokyo, Ayumi. Thanks to her I will have a place to stay and someone to help out a bit those first few days. So huge round of applause to Ayumi. I'm eternally grateful to her!

That's all on that. I should hear back about my official acceptance package on Monday. So fingers crossed!

Japan, study abroad, flight, home stay, japan womens university

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Point of no return

Every time you do something that feels large, whether it's studying abroad, getting married or taking your drivers test, there's always that one point, that one moment when you reach the point of no return. Now, obviously sometimes it is the moment the tester gets in the car or that spot halfway down the aisle, at the very last second that you feel you've reached it. For me, that moment was on Monday.

What's so special about Monday? Let me give you a hint.
On Monday I bought my airplane ticket. I will be leaving on January 3rd at 6:10 in the morning (man it will be a long day) to head to Tokyo and my future at Japan Women's University. The AAA travel agent who helped me with my ticket probably thought I was out of my mind at the time (I had a kind of mini nervous break down), but she was really nice and I ended up buying my round trip ticket for right about $1,900.

Okay, so you're probably wondering with all of the "Save money on your flight" websites out there, why I chose to go through a travel agent? Well, there are couple of reasons for that. Reason number one is that airline companies only sell tickets about 11 months in advance, so right now they are only selling tickets through the end of October. That presents a dilemma for me as I will not be returning until after December 22nd. So when it comes time to make my return date change I can go through my AAA office, or rather, my parents will do it for me since I'll be abroad, and I don't have to worry about the hassles of dealing with an airline company. A flat $250 fee and any increases in return fare will cover it. 

Photo courtesy of Google Maps. Things look a lot less green right about now.

If you've never flown (which I'll be honest, this is my first time!) then the following sentence probably makes sense. If a round trip ticket costs $2000 then the one way ticket probably costs around $1000. Seems like it would make logical sense, yeah? Unfortunately, airline companies are not that logical. What seems to be more the case is the following. If a round trip ticket costs $2000 then so does the one way ticket. Give or take. Now, I can't afford two one way tickets. I'm not made of money. So I opted for the one way and paying the fee to change the date. Saves money. I'm happy. Life solved.

Again, since I've never flown before I rely on the wisdom of the masses (i.e. the internet) to get my information. I've heard that not all tickets can have their dates changed and, not wanting to be left with a bill I can't pay, I opted to spend $50 at my local agent for that peace of mind in knowing that yes, 100% absolutely I can change my return date. The other reason for buying round trip is that I've heard two different stories on entering Japan on a student visa. Some people have said you must have a return flight already booked, others say it's not necessary. I like to air on the side of caution, so my ticket is ready. I'll let you know more after orientation on the 30th.

I'm also currently working on sponsorships. So if you or anyone in your community is interested in sponsoring, please send me an e-mail with a name and address and I will get a letter mailed out!

So that's it for today. If I don't write any more before then have a happy thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

6th grade reading level

Hey everyone. So much to cover, so little time. First off, new blog name. I wanted something simpler, not so "Huh?" inducing. So the new name, drum roll please, Nihon Kara, or From Japan. Second, please leave a comment! Let me know what you think of the redesign. Better yet, if you have an awesome design (with the code to match) in mind pitch it to me. If I like it, I'll use it AND you'll get a special gift if it is pitched and accepted before January 1st, 2013.

Back to business. Things have been moving steadily along since you last heard from me, but nothing big enough on it's own to mention.

First off is my 6th grade reading level in Japanese. Or rather, my lack of. My 4th year Japanese class was very excited to learn we had a sixth grade reading level. Our hopes were quickly dashed however when the first page ended up covered in scribbles translating each and every word. So yeah, that put things in perspective.

Next up, let's see. Next would be presentations over at North Eugene High School. On Halloween, totally dressed up in my home made Belle Halloween costume by the way, I gave a presentation on college, financial aid and study abroad. The 8 am class was, more or less, in Japanese. The noon class totally rocked. After coming back from a YG totally full of cute and adorable kids in costume, I had some candy to spare. So, while giving my presentation I asked a question and received the bored stare response. Finally someone asked a question and the class became very animated once he was rewarded with candy. The last group was by far the mildest and I think we were all tired and ready to go home. Overall a useful day full of useful information I wish someone had told me when I was in high school. Seriously.

Me as Belle, sister Alissa as Jasmine and brother Nelson in disguise as a redneck.

Which, by the way, for any high school students out there reading this, remember. APPLY for those scholarships. APPLY for financial aid. DON'T wait until your senior year. Also financial aid can and DOES pay for study abroad. Okay, off my soapbox now.

Next up,  two weeks Chelsea, the mysterious Breanna and I received our acceptance letters, or e-mails rather, to Japan Women's University. Dance party ensued. It looked something like this.



Anyways, while we may not know who our mysterious 3rd, Breanna, is yet, we're in. Officially. Which is a good thing. We should be receiving our official acceptance packs sometime in the next week, but our program dates are January 5th through December 22nd 2013. After receiving this e-mail we were also e-mailed by the equivalent of the international affairs office at Japan Women's University.  Basically, we hadn't filled out a box on the immigration visa thing because we were told to skip it. However, turns out it was necessary. After fighting with Yahoo mail to attach things (seriously, was it broken for anyone else this past week?) I was able to get my information in and things look clear.

We have also been scheduled for orientation. This bit is a matter of well, irritation for both Chelsea and I. We were sent an e-mail weeks ago asking for our available times during a given week. Naturally, our available times didn't include times when, oh, you know, we were actually in class. So imagine our surprise, and irritation, when the study abroad office e-mailed us with our orientation time and date and it just so happened to be during our Japanese class. E-mails ensued and we got the time changed. However, the new date and time is during yet another one of my classes, the dreaded Chemistry, but rather than argue it again, I'm just going to play mandatory hooky that day. Which, did I mention, orientation is mandatory.
Yakkan Shoumei - Picture copyright Shortbread and Sake

So, that's kind of where things stand at the moment. I should be hearing back about scholarships very soon. Next week I will look into and buy my ticket. Once that is done I need to fill out and turn in my Yakkan Shoumei application. What the Yakkan Shoumei is is basically a form that you fill out with lots of little rules and things saying what medications you will bring to Japan, how much, a doctors note saying it's necessary and why. Then you ship it off to Japan where they check that the stuff isn't illegal in Japan, which a ton more is apparently (more on that later), and then send you back a letter saying yeah, okay, go ahead and bring it. Or they say, no, no. You don't really need that and/or it's illegal here, so you can't bring it.

After that I don't think there is much left to cover right now. Except, oh! Naomi's guest post! Right. (Sorry Naomi, totally forgot to mention it earlier. I know there's totally this edit button and all, but eh!) Naomi's guest post will be coming right around December 1st. So be sure to come back!