Travel Journal of my Time in Japan

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July 1, 2002

Yesterday my mom threw a going away party for me. It was a picnic with fried chicken, softball, lawn chairs, soda, etc. It was mostly family, some of mom's friends that have known me for... ever! And my friends, Jim and Kris. It was soooo hot, but we played some softball, and visited. It was just the kind of party I was hoping for. It could only have been better if it wasn't so hot. We asked everyone to only bring lawn chairs, but many brought gifts just the same. I got several journals, and anyone who knows me, knows I will fill those up in no time! I also got a gift certificate and a check. My brother and his family got me a "Japanese for Dummies" book and CD to help me learn Japanese. I'm thinking I should start that soon. And I also got lots of film and a photo album, again I will use that quickly as well.

Today I'm beginning to feel the approach of my departure date in mid-August. Before it always seemed so far away, and it seemed like I had all the time in the world. But for the first time today, I began to feel the difficult part of leaving. The inevitable homesickness, all the adjustments to make, etc. But these are the same challenges I sought when I applied for this job in March. The most difficult part will be saying good-bye to Julie, my cat. She's purring in my lap right now as I write this. I can exchange emails with the rest of you... she's not so good at a keyboard, what with not having opposable thumbs and all. But mom has begun feeding her, and she let mom touch her last night. So that was encouraging. Those of you who know my cat, will appreciate how amazing that is.

As it turns out, Ryan (the teacher I will be replacing in Nagaoka) is also an American, from Atlanta. He has been a wealth of information about taxes, appropriate gifts to bring and other things. I look forward to meeting him when I get there. He'll be showing me around the city and how to do things for a few days before he leaves the first week of September. And his girlfriend is in Nagaoka as well. I just sent an intro email to her, I hope she replies soon. I wonder if she will be going with Ryan when he leaves, or if I will have my first friend before I even arrive.

Thanks for all the support on this adventure of mine!

on to August 5, 2002