So I have been living in Japan for three months now and I have learned so much. But there were some things that I wished I prepared for before I came so here is a retrospective list of things I wish I did back home to prepare for life here and/or started to do way early on than a month later.
1. Prepare my laptop. I brought over a netbook thinking I didn’t need anything too fancy. And it really isn’t a bad little machine. Compact so I can carry it places and super simple to use. However, I remembered why I got it in the first place. I got it so I could have the maneuverability to take it to school, take notes, and have some important stuff on it. I did not get it to use as my main computer (that was what my desktop at home was for). But I am finding myself using it as my main computer and it is somewhat tough. One major thing is that it doesn’t have ppt (and yet in another post, I did say that it was a minor thing). I mean I’m sure I can get it for it, but that also requires the system to handle it, which I do not know if it can. It is just the little things that I can get used to but because I was used to the luxuries of having it on a big desktop at home, reducing down to a tiny 9.8” screen and a tiny keyboard to boot makes for a first world problem. Oh it also doesn’t have a player to play all my movies I brought over because the VLC player was on my desktop and I didn’t think to put it on my netbook. So prepare your laptop for EVERYTHING. MS Word, Photoshop if you use it, basically if your main computer was a desktop at home, make your laptop an equivalent to that.
UPDATE: I now have internet so it now has the VLC player. No ppt but I think I am just going to get a bigger laptop for that one.
2. More research on ingredients available in Japan. This is my first time away from home, so in order to survive, I need to feed myself. Since there isn’t a wide selection of fast food (and frankly I am trying to get away from it all since I was surrounded by it at home), I need to cook. However, when looking up recipes, I do not know if the ingredients are available in Japan. Japan is a very developed country and has pretty much everything at your disposal…if you are willing to pay for it. For example, fruit and cheese here is crazy expensive. And I mean CRAZY expensive. A tiny wedge of parmesan will cost about 700 yen (about $7) and it is probably about slightly smaller than a deck of cards. Watermelon? Forget it. $16-$18 for a whole watermelon. $8 for a cantaloupe. Maybe it is just where I am at but I wish I did more research so I knew how expensive some things were and work around it. But yes, when cooking, do research on what is available here and not available. And also find out what it is called here because it may have a different name.
3. Bring a box of mac and cheese. Or ten. Mad cravings…
4. Start on the internet early! I waited for a while because I wasn’t sure of some things but one day I was like fuck it and started to sign up. It went well and I still got it smoothly, but I could have gotten it earlier. Not to mention I had a busy weekend that weekend with waiting for my installation to happen on Saturday, the same day I was going to go out to a festival in Tsukuba. So start on that process early to get it done early, especially if your entertainment back home revolved around the internet.
5. Stock up on entertainment that doesn’t involve internet. Going with #4, you will be without internet for a while unless you just took over for someone and they had it set up for you. But in my case, I moved apartments so I had to get things set up on my own. I’m sure it would have been waaaaaay easier to just move right in…but I didn’t. In a way it was nice because I could make it my own, but in another way it sucked because that means I had to set things up like TV and internet on my own (which I didn’t get until now almost). With that said, stock up on entertainment that you can do without internet. Load your tablet full of books, bring all your movies digitally (and make sure to have the proper programs installed to watch them), load your MP3 player up with all the music! The music has been helping me out since I am used to having things to listen to in the background and without internet…can’t watch anything…nothing in the background. It is eerie. So yes, prepare for no internet so you don’t get cabin fever.
6. Brought more omiyage. It is hard to determine what people like and what to bring when you haven’t met them before so it was hard to prepare for this one in general. But things like knowing how many teachers are in a staffroom (the EXACT number) would have helped and even bringing a little extra would have helped. The reason why I say this is because I was three pieces of candy short for all the people in my base school staffroom and I feel really bad about it. Also bigger stuff so just in case I forget anyone, I can come up with something quick.
7. Brought a blank school planner with me. So the school year in Japan starts in April and it is already September sooooo I am a little late in the game. The planners are also sold at the beginning of the year…as in calendar year. Wish I knew that (and that I would need a planner) so I could have bought one in the states. I got lucky one of my friends hooked it up with one. Otherwise I would be screwwwwwed.
8. Brought more casual clothes. I had more room in my bags than I thought so I could have stuffed more things in it. But again, didn’t know at the time. But I could only wear the same Captain America shirt or Game Grumps shirt for so long. I might just go shopping and buy a bunch of men’s shirts since girl shirts don’t fit me really…
9. Eat more Mexican food. Jonsing for some like mad right now and there are no places with good authentic Mexican food around here (if you know any in the Kanto region, please hit me up. I will train anywhere for a decent burrito).
10. Gorge myself in burritos. Yes, it might go with #9 but burritos get their own spot because they are freaking burritos. Eat my weight in burritos. Hard core man.
Current Japan residents, what were some things you wish you did when you came here?
Potential Japan residents, let this be a lesson for you haha