Alright, the count is down to three weeks. For those of you who haven’t read some of my past posts, right now I am three weeks away from leaving for Japan. Strangely, I think I am more comfortable and less nervous this week than I had been the last two or three weeks. I think I have been wrapping up loose ends and have been able to see many of my friends and family and do things I had hoped to complete this summer before I left.
I wanted to prepare a quick overview of the things I am packing and preparing, of both things that I have been told by my program to do and things I have discovered on my own or through friends who have previously studied abroad.
1) Travel Preparations
I have looked into inexpensive flights, hostels, and busses in order to be more prepared once I actually need to make travel plans. I don’t want to be scammed or trapped into purchasing something I don’t want/is more expensive because I don’t know what the other options are.
STA Travel is a multipurpose for all types of travel, insurance, trip planning and destinations. It was recommended to me by my study abroad program, and though I have only searched around on the site and not purchased any tickets through it, it seems user friendly and informative.
Student Universe is similar but focused directly at discounted prices for students. Also recommended by my program, it also has sections for finding tours and activities meant for groups. Although some of these are rather expensive, it is a great way to discover the possibilities.
Speaking of expenses, if you are looking to travel in Japan, I have discovered long distance travel by bus with the Willer Travel Busses. This is great for students, with a round trip from Tokyo to Osaka costing half the price of a one way ticked on a bullet train. I have heard from friends that this is a great resource for longer distance travel–especially in a group–because there are overnight options where you can get on a bus Thursday night and arrive in your location the next morning.
Once you get to your destination, where will you stay? Well, I have recently discovered that there are some very nice hostels throughout Japan, which can be researched at Hostels International and Japan Youth Hostels. Obviously, the latter of the two is specific to Japan, whereas HI can be used for finding and booking hostels all over the world. I have not yet tried booking anything, but both sites are user friendly and I now feel very comfortable finding and booking hostels. 🙂
2) Language Preparations
I know, I know, this is a subject I have already posted about, and I can often–at any time of the year, whether I am traveling or not–be found studying. What I mean, though, is that I have been looking up important kanji (Japanese characters) and other important vocabulary for things such as the cities I will be in, the prefectures in Tokyo, the area my school is in, etc. There will be so many new things when I get to Japan that I think it is a good idea to be familiar with some things. I have also been using my journals on Lang-8 to ask language (and culture) related questions–in addition to practicing my general Japanese there.
3) Packing Preparations
I have already done two trial packings. This is excessive, I know, but it makes me feel more assured and reminds me what else I need to get done. It is also a good way to find out what you really want to bring with and what you are okay with leaving behind. The first time I packed, I wanted to see how much I could possibly stuff into my suitcases. The next time, I had a more realistic idea of what I wanted.
For more of the things I am packing, check out Part 2! 😀