I just thought I’d share that I’m posting this from my new laptop. Woo, WIRELESS! I got a Gateway this weekend–actually a pretty high-end machine (I honestly never thought I’d get a Gateway, but now that they’ve bought eMachines, that gives their machines a chance to compete with the bigger names while eMachines becomes the “entr-level” brand, so to speak), Centrino technology, Pentium 4 1.6 GHz, 512 MB RAM, 80 GB HD, DVD/CD burner combo drive…and under $900 after rebates. And here I thought I was going to get an Acer, with like none of that, for $700. Pah!
(I only just realized that I’d left my laptop on standby for 3 days without even realizing it, because I assumed that the blue light in front meant the battery was charged since it’s plugged in, and not that it was still on. Haha, oops…)
No real updates (besides picking up my new glasses yesterday–blue plastic semi-cat’s-eye frames! So cool!)…I’ve been busy enough with work to not get much done. Buying the laptop has been the biggest thing. This is only my first time really using it, after starting it up and burning the recovery CDs. I can take this opportunity to post some things that have been suggested at Chiisai Sudachi (the Tokushima AJET forum):
- with the exception of clothes, underwear, shoes, and medicine, if you can get it in the US, you can almost definitely get it in Japan. They even have Herbal Essences shampoo over there. But yeah, don’t stock up on many toiletries you can get there…maybe bring some deodorant and sunscreen, things that may actually make a difference based on your “bodily chemistry,” but that’s it. And Japanese toothpaste doesn’t have fluoride, so bring a few tubes of your own.
- ship your winter stuff over, and pack for a warm summer. This applies especially to Tokushima, whose summers parallel Atlanta’s (ew) in warmth and stickiness, but everywhere else as well. Actually, if you go to cnn.com’s weather section, you can pull up a ton of international locations, including dozens of cities throughout Japan. I was pleasantly surprised to see that Tokushima’s on their list–and the forecast is in English, unlike Yahoo!Japan’s weather site. So that can give you an idea of the climate in your area right now.
- it’s okay to be original, because you’re over there because you’re a foreigner. Some things like piercings and really short/revealing clothes are frowned upon (I actually bought a really cute skirt that comes just above my knees–yeah, I used “cute” and “skirt” and “bought” in the same sentence; I can’t believe it, either–anyway, it’s too short to teach in, because it has to come to your knees when you kneel, and mine’s several inches too short), but they’re generally pretty understanding of foreigners’ idiosyncracies.
- bring omiyage. (Souvenirs.) Bring a ton to give to your coworkers, principal(s), neighbors, friends, etc. Food is generally recommended, especially regional food–someone brought saltwater taffy, as a regional snack. (So would I like bring bottles of peach preserves to everyone then? Or just some general southern food…? Hmm. Maybe I’ll just get a bunch of cookies…can’t go wrong with that.)
- dress code varies between schools. Generally, middle schools are a little more flexible than high schools, but you still can’t wear jeans, no matter where you are. (Heh. I wore capris to work today–I’m going to miss that flexibility.) Ask what you can and can’t wear, and look to see what the other teachers are wearing. In general, though, the more you dress up, the more the students will see you as a sensei and not just an oniisan/oneesan (big brother/sister) or something.
- don’t bring a lot of color-coordinating shoes for your work shoes, since you have indoor shoes you carry with you to wear daily. Many people apparently wear white sneakers, but some places are okay with open-toed sandals (albeit dressy ones) in the summer, too. Just be sure that your indoor shoes are comfortable enough that they’ll let you be on your feet all day.
- many American airlines let you check 2 70-pound bags and bring another one as well as a personal item as your carry-ons. Northwest is no exception. Clothes can be quite heavy, though, so ship what you can, if you get your address ahead of time. The USPS has very reasonable rates, especially compared to the other shipping carriers like FedEx and UPS.
Granted, I still have yet to follow this advice (though the last one I discovered myself), since I really haven’t started packing yet, and there’s a ton more they’ve posted as well that I’ll maybe recap in a future “killing time” post. Three weeks seems like it should definitely be enough time to get everything done–though I wish that tomorrow were my last day, because I would’ve loved to use the extra week to travel. My grandmother in Ohio is flying down to spend a few weeks here, though, so I’ll definitely get to see her. Plus, she won’t be lonely, since my other grandmother is currently living with us; she lives alone in Ohio, just a couple of miles from my aunt (her daughter) but still alone in an apartment, after my grandfather died 2 1/2 years ago.
All right, I should sleep…we have a neighborhood garage sale this weekend, and since I’m working from home, I volunteered to run our house’s tomorrow. I just need to figure out how to keep my laptop plugged in so I can have constant access to my e-mail for work purposes…and whether or not I’ll get a signal in the garage. Hmm.
Oh, and the first official JET orientation is this Saturday. I’ll definitely have a lot to write about after that happens.