Thursday, October 21, 2010

Before

Welcome to my web log!  Yokooso!  If you don't know me, I'm Tiffany, and this blog tells tales from Japan about me, my family, and friends and strangers along the way. 
So, I hope this first part proves interesting and not slow, because I wanted to go back and recount at least a bit of all the things that happened that led to us being in Japan.   

Knox, Peter, and Tiffany at the Keio Plaza in Tokyo
I should have started this blog a year ago in October 2009 when I began the process of getting to Japan.  I didn’t have much faith at the time that I would end up here, so never would have even thought of documenting the experience.  I came to find out that approximately 4% of the applicants for Florida were accepted.  I’m glad I didn't know stats going in. 
Back then I had only a few ideas in my head about Japan; I had a feeling that “Japan,” the idea of Japan and all things Japanese, were somehow serendipitous to my life.  Why did I take Japanese in high school?  (I don’t know, because it was different I guess.  I have always liked anything that was different.)  I continued on with Japanese in college since I already had a decent start.  I worked at Starbucks in downtown Gainesville while I went to UF, and I have always wondered at the knowledge that two people I worked with at Starbucks were fluent in Japanese, one of which went on to get a master’s degree in East Asian Studies from Stanford, and two other people I worked with at Starbucks went to Japan on the JET Program.  Yet another Starbucks coworker took Japanese after I left and has JET ambitions.  When I worked at Warner Bros. in California I was always given the groups from Japan, even though I hardly remembered a word of Japanese.  I considered applying for JET from California, but something stopped me.  Finally, in October 2009, I began the application process, which was tedious and time consuming and worry inducing.  I turned my application into the Embassy in Washington, D.C. in November, heard that I got an interview in January, went to the Consulate of Japan in Miami in February for my interview (which was really cool, by the way), and found out about my acceptance in April.  Whew.  It was hard work and a lot of waiting, but it turned out to be worth the effort. 
Then the packing began.  We started selling stuff on Craig’s List and E-Bay in April and lived without most of our furniture for 3 months.  I was nervous that if we didn’t get started we would end up giving it away and getting nothing for it.  We had a major garage sale, took 2 or 3 car loads to Goodwill, and took a moving truck to my Mom’s house.  In the meantime, we knew that on July 31st we were boarding a plane to move to the country of Japan, but we didn’t know what island or city in Japan until late June.  I remember getting my contract in the mail from Japan with the kanji all over it and the postage stamps indicating from how far that envelope had come.  It was cool.  I felt important.  I was someone who received express mail, delivered to my door from Japan.  My supervisors from the Board of Education and my school e-mailed me, finally, but I did not get much information out of them.  When my predecessor e-mailed me I started to actually learn something about the place that I was altering my whole life to experience.  The pictures of the apartment eased my mind because they made the place look pretty spacious, but they also made me cringe a little because the kitchen looked like a Greasy Spoon.  When we arrived in Japan I was surprised at the space; We had another room not depicted in the e-mails, and the kitchen wasn’t so bad after some cleaning, rearranging, and a dash of “getting used to.”  We found out our address, what our rent would be, what my school was like and what kind of people I would work with…  Every piece of information was precious.  Some unfortunate new JETs were never contacted by their preds.  Some even-more-unfortunates learned that their predecessors were charging them between $200 and $3000 for the furniture, etc.  I got lucky.  All my pred wanted was for me to pay his Internet bill of $40 when it came in September. 
I knew I should've started writing then.  I can hardly remember all of the harried tasks of getting my physician's report in to the consulate, waiting for my FBI background check to arrive and making sure NOT TO OPEN THE ENVELOPE, calling and calling the IRS to ask where my 6166 was, which I had submitted a 8022 application for, taking Knox in for his checkups, revisiting the impossible vaccine issue, finding a home for our precious kitties, changing our car insurance over, facilitating the sale of our home, saying goodbye again and again, getting the dry cleaning done, and, as is our custom before any trip, waiting to pack until the night before.
   
From Japan,
Tiffany

2 comments:

Megan said...

You look beautiful in this picture!!

Tiffany said...

Thank you!!