There was also a wonderful party at my work, the Mill End Store in Beaverton. My co-workers put together an all-American BBQ with a ton of delicious food, and there were even speeches and really thoughtful gifts. I'm so grateful I had the chance to work with so many fantastic people- I hope that I'll be able to keep in touch with everyone!
In between all the packing madness, I've been trying to spend as much time with my friends and family as I can. We all went out for Korean BBQ one more time at DJK in Beaverton, and my sister and I made a very cold but fun trip to Canon Beach on Monday this week. It's been really nice spending time at home with my parents also- my mom and I have been watching lots of movies, and my dad's been home sick, which is unfortunate, but it's still nice to have him around now.
In terms of my preparations, I sold some things on Craigs List and gave away a lot of other stuff when I moved out of my apartment. Rose and Arika have inherited all of my costumes and sewing supplies, which I hope they will put to good use until I come back for them one day. And there are many boxes of books and one of mementos that I'll be storing at my parents'. (As I have an unfortunate disability which makes me unable to part with books.) But I've been really trying to get rid of as much as possible.
Some things I've been told to bring with me to Japan, either because they're expensive, hard to find, or non-existent there, are: shoes (if larger than women's size 8), deodorant, cold medicine, adapters for 3-prong electronics and whatever snack/seasoning/product I can't live without. I'm also packing a lot of Vitamin C, because between the traveling and the working with kids, not catching anything nasty the first month or so is going to be extremely difficult.
I applied for my work Visa this week at the Japanese Consulate in downtown Portland. The way the Visa process works is this: after you're hired and sign a contract with a Japanese employer, you send them the necessary documents for a Certificate of Eligibility for working in Japan. These usually include: notarized copy of your diploma, photo for immigration and a copy of your passport. They submit those with the necessary paperwork to the Japanese government, then they receive the certificate which gets sent to you. Then you take it to a Japanese Consulate near you, fill out a fairly simple form, and within a week you should receive your Visa stamp in your passport. Unfortunately because I was hired somewhat last minute, the Certificate of Eligibility only arrived here on Monday. Provided all goes well I should be picking up my passport with the Visa stamp today or tomorrow.
The packing is going well, and I'm looking forward to meeting with some friends once again today before I go. My flight is Saturday, and I'll be arriving at Narita at 5pm on Sunday. I'm lucky enough to have friends in Tokyo, and one of them will be meeting me at the airport and helping me get around. And I've also been promised ramen and Tokyo Tower sight-seeing- I can't wait!!
Most likely the next post will be coming to you from Japan. Take care everyone, and to my friends in Portland, please keep in touch!