Category Archives: Nanao

Habits

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Organizing the behaviors that differ between what I’m used to and what goes on in my part of Japan.

There’s such a large spectrum of bizarre things that the Japanese do. Well, bizarre to me. Let’s be clear: I hail from a middle sized city, close to another very large city, with a very Americanized social structure, mixtures of races and cultures, and I was raised in the ‘burbs. Just about anywhere I go, people seem to do strange things. It’s no surprise that Japan was odd to me.

Thankfully, I was prepared for many things when I first flew over. Customs like changing into house slippers in people’s homes, some restaurants, and schools. Or etiquette for onsen bathing and proper introductions between people. Other things I knew about but didn’t fully understand their scope until I experienced them first hand, usually when making some silly social mistakes. Things like how no matter what people say, unless they have an understanding of the literal nature of the way we speak in the west, is taken as an indirect way to say something completely different. An example is when I ask my company branch something, I get the oddest, loop around, response. It takes me a day to think about why I got the response and what I need to respond with in order to get to the heart of the question. むずかしね。Difficult. But it’s all about maintaining the ‘Wa’ here.

Beyond the many business oriented social rigamorole, there are many behaviors that peak my interest. The rate at which things are built here is astounding when compared to what I’m used to seeing back home. Not that construction workers at home are lazy or ineffective. In Japan, they appear to work at near lightening speed. A friend and I were driving on 159 and saw the base of a house being built. She challenged that in a couple weeks, there would be a fully finished house standing there. Sure enough, she was right. Road construction is equally impressive. I wonder what their secret is…

Little things like the amount of squatting people do on a regular basis is a constant source of glee for me. When the students have a big meeting and are allowed to squat for a period but not sit for whatever reason, they all look like a bunch of cute little frogs chillin’ on rocks. Or sometimes when someone squats and is thinking real hard about something, they look like they are taking an imaginary poo.

Only 3 weeks till I fly home for my August break! I’m trying to stay as busy as possible to help time fly and to soak up as much as I can of a Japanese summer. Festivals everywhere you turn, parties and izakaya (imagine a bar with awesome food and drinks but with private, closed off seating areas instead of regular bar or pub) outings, trips to cities/towns. I haven’t had the time for a lazy day at the beach yet! And I’m surrounded by beaches within 40 minutes on almost all sides. They aren’t the cleanest beaches however. Oo side step back to topic!

The streets in Japan are, typically, immaculately clean. Even during a huge festival, towns people are hard at work gathering the junk left behind. It shows so much pride. In contrast, their beaches couldn’t be more trashed. It may be that no matter where you are around the world there will be trash that washes up on the shore. In my experiences on the East Coast of the States, either towns people or hired city workers patrol the beaches for trash. I’ve even found myself reaching for the few bits of trash left behind.

Rarely have I come across a beach littered and water clogged with junk as it is here in my area of Japan. And it’s not as though they have too many beaches to monitor. Much of Japan’s shores are cliff-sides or cemented barriers to protect from tsunami’s and such things. What little beach they do have is left to fend for itself. No boardwalks, few seaside eateries, and few clean areas to lay down a blanket. There’s glass, plastic containers, dead fish, long rope, clothing, and more. It’s like someone took a Walmart and dumped its contents into the Sea of Japan.

Being the beach bums that we are, my friend Nicole and I have discussed coming to one of the beaches for the sole purpose of doing a clean up. Secretly, we hope that our efforts will embarrass the people who live there into taking more pride in their lovely little beaches. In the defense of some towns, I have seen a beach where the debris had been collected into large piles along the shoreline, though I don’t know if it has been or will be removed. It could also be the case that no one bothers to clean the beaches until August, when kids have their summer break and most families take their vacations. But it’s so hot already! It feels like a sin to be so close to the ocean and have such disrespect for a beach that could be helping hundreds or thousands of people relax (and spend money at the town’s establishments!).

With love – M

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It’s good to be naked

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First time at the onsen.

I have no photos yet of this marvelous experience but I will post them as soon as I can. Obviously, not of anyone actually naked but of the bath house itself. I may try to negotiate a picture of the bath area during closing time if I can muster the guts to do so.

For those who don’t know, an onsen is a hot spring that has been fitted for human use. Monkeys use the natural ones in the mountains but I’ve yet to see an animal in one of the people ones. It would likely be considered unclean to have them in there. I digress. The one I went to is in Wakura, one of the most famous onsen towns in Ishikawa. It’s not too far, maybe 15 minute drive or so and was just remodeled. They really like cedar here (or maybe that’s the most abundant tree) so there’s a lot of very lightly stained cedar everywhere and it smells awesome. For this adventure, one of my new found friends named Karen had invited me along. I couldn’t have asked for a better ‘first time onsen trip partner’.

Step by step: first, we took off our shoes and stored them in a little lock box. Then we bought our tickets from a machine and handed them to a woman at the main desk. That part is always a little odd to me… why not just give you the money but oh well. I’m sure it has a good reason for time efficiency that I just haven’t caught yet. Then to the correct door… important… and removal of ALL clothing and storing it in another lockbox. We now grabbed any shower stuff we brought and headed to the rinsing/bathing area. We sat on a stool and washed ourselves in front of a huge mirror. This is also nice because it helps to adjust your body’s temperature to the heat of the hot spring. Then there are several tub areas to choose from, each with a temperature read out. We tried the outdoor one first thinking “ooo it’s pretty outside” but that’s the hottest one. So we gave up and came back in to a slightly less hot bath. There’s also a sauna (which I couldn’t even breathe in) and a cold water area. It’s nice to get all hot and then cool off a little before leaving, especially in the summer heat. I imagine in the winter, few people use the cold water.

The rest is pretty self explanitory. You dry off, weigh yourself if you like, get dressed and head on out or hang out in the public tatami room for a bit. Oh wait, I forgot. There’s NAKED women everywhere. That’s the most intense part of this whole experience. I imagine for guys it’s not quite as intense. Though I am rather free-spirited, this was still a gutsy move for me. I know how it is ladies. I love myself, body included, but not day goes by that I don’t want to change something about it. These women don’t care. Not that they don’t care about me, they just don’t care about nudity. It’s natural and normal in an onsen. The only odd part to them is that I’m a foreigner. The curves and other physical differences make them do a double take sometimes but if I lived in a homogenous society, I think I’d do the same.

So ladies, if you’re thinking of giving one a try, I recommend showing no fear. Don’t worry about a ‘modesty towel’ or holding your arm across your boobies or whatever. Just do it like you’ve done it for a thousand years. Before you know it, you might even start to forget that everyone’s wearing their birthday suit. You’ll be laughing at the little kids throwing cold water on each other just like I did.

With love – M

Daydreaming about cats

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Note: This post was very delayed… I wrote it on June 2, 2011… lol. I guess you could say I’ve been a little busy. I think that’s a good thing, though.

 

Dealing with homesickness on the other side of the world.

Ages ago, I remember reading a page from either Interac or JET about the different stages that manifest during a prolonged stay away from home. At the time, I was probably lounging on my bed while reading it, likely there was a cat snuggled up next to me. Sure, I can handle that, I thought. But imagining and experiencing are rarely the same. How about I describe these stages as they occurred to me.

The first stage is referred to as the ‘honeymoon’ stage. I touched down in Japan and hit the ground running. Things didn’t start to slow down until almost 2 months later. During that time I was exploring, eating, hanging out with friends, and all in amounts more than usual for daily life. It was like going on a long vacation. Even work felt like an adventure and I managed to lose some weight thanks to all the action.

Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end. For the last few weeks, it’s been a downward spiral of events leading to some heavy homesickness. There was my boyfriend coming to visit and his leaving. Then, the weather wasn’t warming up as quickly as I had hoped and the famous Ishikawa rain began to set in. And I had spent some much needed time reorganizing photos and files on my hard drives and this added to a lot of time reminiscing. I can’t tell you how many times I looked at pictures of my cats.

What a goof. This is Floyd.

And the prettiest princess, Sasha.

This past weekend I experienced my first typhoon and the lack of sun was making me feel even more downtrodden. Then one of our cats at home died (Meshka) and my dad’s sister died. Not being able to help console my relatives in anyway is very frustrating. I don’t remember what this stage is called… but it’s not fun. Lots of crying involved.

Though I’m still in the midst of crawling out of this proverbial hole of memories, things are looking up. I get the feeling the universe knows I’m unhappy because a curious series of events happened recently to help spur me to action. On Monday, there was a basketball game at my Jr. High with teachers vs. students. We lost miserably but it was a lot of fun and I needed the exercise, fo’ sho’. Tuesday I had more in depth than usual conversation with my boyfriend that left me feeling satiated mentally.

Wednesday was a three-point shot: in the morning, one of my elementary school teachers commented on how grateful he was that my Japanese is improving because he has such a hard time with English. I also carried on an entire small conversation about the day with another teacher entirely in Japanese. Those moments are always empowering. Then I got to go to my Jr. High’s sumo tournament and that was a whole awesome experience in and of itself.

The cherry on top was this man that was there. I believe he was one of my Jr. High sumo player’s fathers. Evidently, he enjoys bending wire into interesting creations for keychains and when he saw a female foreigner, I guess the temptation was to great. His friend asked my name and then he brought a card to write it down on because it was so difficult (Meredith has a slew of complications for native Japanese). Then he asked what wire color and bell I would like and said ok and went back to his seat. I had no idea at the time what in blue blazes he was making. I asked one of my JTE’s but she didn’t have a clue either. He brought back this sweet keychain. Now, if I was still depressed after all that it would have been a sin but just to ensure my happiness lasted until I got home, I stopped to grab a piece of cake from a conbini on my way back to school (after the sumo tournament). Can’t be too careful.

The stage I think I’m heading into now is called ‘acceptance’. Basically, I’m reaffirming the reasons I’m here, establishing a realization that memories do not constitute happiness, and getting used to the flow of daily life again. It’s a lot to take in. I don’t recommend trying to rush any of these stages. Like I said, I think the universe was looking out for me and let things play out in a certain way for me to gain the maximum benefit from my pain. That’s the key: to be open to the bad bits. It’s the quickest way to happiness.

Now the sun is shining and the birds are singing. It may rain more but the brief moments of sunshine are enough to carry me through the day. Daydreaming about the good food I’ll eat tonight doesn’t hurt either…. mmm curry.

With love – M

2 Frogs on a Bike

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Buying a bicycle and riding about town.

For many weeks I debated on which bicycle to buy. I looked at every shop I could find and took forever to make a decision. Here’s why: A new bicycle will set you back at least 9000 yen (a friend got hers for 8000 a while ago but haven’t found that price anywhere since). If you want a subway bike, nicer tires, more gears, electric assist motor and so on, it will cost you more. I had my eye on one of the very normal, ‘everyone and their mother has one of these’ kind of bike.

But I didn’t want to spend all that money on a bike! And I had heard about some ALT’s getting hand me downs. On a mission, I was, to find a used bike. That was when I discovered the junkyards. Very different from in the states, these junkyards are small and well kept for the most part. Specifically, the one in Nanao has quite a few bikes in decent condition. I stopped by with a friend out of curiosity. We asked to look around and took a closer look at some of the bikes. Many were in disrepair but a solid 10 or so were ready to ride. I decided to think about it… for weeks because my schedule was funny and I wouldn’t get home in time to stop by there or it would be raining.

I prevailed. The gentleman at the junkyard was very helpful and let me ride it around the little lot. He even tried to sell me a newer bike (all bikes are the same price) but the handle bars were the curved in kind and I felt more comfortable buying handle bars I was used too. I checked the tires, tested the brakes, shook the front basket, and messed with just about every bit on there. I think the dude was impressed by my thorough inspection. For 3000 yen, it was mine. After 2 long rides on it thus far, I can tell you I’m very pleased with it. Even if it craps out by the end of the summer, I’m only staying for one year. I highly doubt I’ll be riding in the snow and ice.

As for cycling in town versus driving or walking, I like cycling much better. Driving is fast, climate controlled, and can carry more but going so fast, I miss some of the little shops and it’s difficult to park and drive in many areas. Plus there’s the whole paying for gas part. Walking is… well, it’s just slow. I like taking long walks but not alone. And carrying any kind of heavy shopping bag all that way is not my idea of a good time. Cycling, with baskets attached, affords some relaxation/exercise similar to walking and some of the speed and carrying power of a car. Maybe it’s silly but this is how I rationalized it in my head. And paying for gas here stresses me out (self-serve has lots of buttons I can’t seem to remember and full-service is more expensive.

A quick story: This past Saturday, I went on a nice little road trip with some new local ALT friends. We did a lot of walking around and shopping so I thought I was getting at least a little physical activity. As the day wore on, a headache I had been subduing manifested into a full on migraine that would not budge. By the time I got home, all I wanted was to slam my head into the wall and leave it there. In one of my smarter moments, I decided to head out for a ride on my bike to pick up a few small things. After maybe 5 minutes of riding, my head started to clear and my whole body felt much better. It was close to twilight and the mixture of warm air and the familiar smells coming from the bay made it lovely. I would’ve ridden around all night if my legs hadn’t started to get so tired. My booty was really sore in the morning, too. I’ll take that! If I can go for a ride instead of poppin’ pills for my headaches, yes please.

Maybe now I can burn off all those late nights at the local kaitenzushi…

With love – M

A visit from home

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Joel comes to Japan and I do my best to overload him.

The first week of May seemed to sneak up on me. Before I knew it, I had my weekend Osaka trip with Nathalie and Joel was flying in on Monday. To top it off, it was Golden Week here in Japan. I wasn’t invited to the tournaments that my Jr High was competing in during the week and weekend ( I think because they weren’t at the school) but it worked out for the best. Already, we had a lot on our plate.

This was Joel’s first visit to Japan so I tried to prepare him mentally for things to be rather different here. He can get anxious about change. But I think he did remarkably well. He even tried to learn some very basic Japanese. His city accent from Wilmington made it difficult for him. Those ‘R’s can be killers on both sides, I guess. I should’ve taken a picture of him talking to the information desk at the airport before he knew I was there. I think many of you would appreciate the look on that woman’s face. I was just too excited to see him.

Immediately, he was immersed. While riding home from Komatsu, he commented on the excessive array of lights. He sounded drugged. Somehow he stayed awake long enough to eat and make it in the door of my apartment. We both crashed. Early the following day I began my indoctrination. Below is a quick day by day summary.

Monday: Flight in and first conbini experience.

Tuesday: Visit Nanao city center to search for backup sneakers (he only brought one pair of walking shoes and they were very worn) in a size 30. We found a 29 that did the job! Impressive, I know. First taiko game experience in the arcade of Patria mall. Some fresh pastries for breakfast and then to Nicole’s to meet up for adventures. Melissa had just arrived, too, so we all headed for the Wakura footbath on the bay and then to boil some eggs. Tried a some delicious little cakes at the famous confectionary shop on the bay then to Mahalo for a Hawaiian styled lunch. Then to the Nanao Castle Ruins and the lookout at the top of the mountains (stupid fog). Stopped over at the obstacle park, this is not its actual name. Then home for short naps and back out again for kaitenzushi. Funny story: service was sloooow at the AL Plaza joint but Nicole got the call that her friend Will had just arrived at the station so she took off to get him while the three of us who were left went to the more trusted joint at Nappy Mall. Nicole and Will joined us and we were all much happier there. Some spontaneous bowling occurred after and then Joel and I went home to crash while the other’s had a few drinks.

The tasty stuff at Mahalo.

Joel and Nicole hoofin' it up the hill.

Watch out for the lava! and hamster wheels of doom!

Wednesday: Attempted going to Notojima Aquarium but too much traffic. Went to beaches there instead. Had some Coco’s Curry for lunch. Not anything like Indian curry back home but tastey in it’s own way. I miss naan bread. Then back to Nanao city center for adventures in finding the Seihakusai (huge traditional style floats). Human powered and almost too big for the streets. Some folks had poles to push the float away from their homes so nothing was damaged.

This is one of the decayama at the Seihakusai festival.

Thursday: Last day of the Seihakusai festival!

Mmmm festival junk food...

Friday: I had to work (boo!) so Joel fended for himself. Walked to the conbini and bought his own food. What a champ. Had Gogo’s Curry and bought some ridiculous Engrish shirts at AL Plaza.

He loves this shirt.

Saturday: We got up early and tried again for the aquarium with much greater success. It was the first time Joel had even seen a dolphin show. Also, first donburi experience and I think he really liked it. I love those little eateries next to the aquarium. Then we headed over to get lost between Shika and Togi town while finding a sweet cave and the world’s longest bench. Yay for aimless adventures!

Joel kept hitting his head on the tank and was not pleased with me.

It just keeps going and going and...

Sunday: Rising early, we left for Komatsu, stopping along the way at Kahoku Aeon mall and some cute little rock beaches in Komatsu. We even found a shinto temple and accidently walked around during a service. There were other people there just meandering like us but I still felt out of place and didn’t take any photos of it.

He's got a bad face on but really, we were enjoying ourselves. I swear.

It amazes me he survived all of that in one piece. And not a touch cranky the whole time! What a champ. For more photos, go here.

With love – M

The Open Road

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Driving in Japan and my first week’s adventures.

Being from the States, there are obvious driving differences that I knew were going to make themselves aware. Like, say, driving on the opposite side of the road in the opposite side of the car. I’ll admit, I was rather anxious about my first drive but once I sat down and got going, it wasn’t anywhere near as difficult as I had blown it up to be in my head. What’s difficult are the little things you notice later.

Driving slow on… every morning actually. A lot of Sunday drivers in the inaka.

Not that anyone was supposed to, but no one told me about the interesting driving etiquette that happens here. Sure, the streets are narrow but the cars are typically smaller than what I’m used to back home. And sure, the lights are sideways but the colors are the same. It’s the people that are so different. When the light turns yellow, and there’s still someone trying to make that turn, they let them go turn on red without a fuss. There are very few turn signal lights around, at least out here in the inaka (countryside). When driving on a particularly narrow street with two way traffic, cars take turns pulling onto the side in whatever way they can (like driveways to homes or dirt) to let cars pass.

Air view from a garden to the city of Nanao on the east side.

The inaka - a sunset over rice fields.

It’s like many things in Japan where it’s become this well oiled machine. As long as everyone conforms to the system, that is. I’ve come across a jerk here and there but I think it’s more just people not paying attention, distracted by screaming children in the back or voices in their heads. Then there are the ji-chan trucks (Grampa trucks) who don’t have a whole lot of power or are carrying heavy loads usually and tend to slow up a lot of traffic. Passing cars in the inaka is pretty easy as long as you’re careful, however. Oh! And everyone backs in to parking spaces. I always know where I park. I’m the only one pulled in. And I probably won’t bother to try backing in just for that reason. I had my own brush with a telephone pole as well… nothing serious, I probably wasn’t doing more than 15kmph and a truck came down a hill and around the corner a bit fast. Ah well, at least there was no visible damage to the car. It just smacked the side view mirror. Needless to say, I take those types of corners a bit more cautiously now.

My first week was a LOT of driving. Thankfully, I carpooled with some fellow ALT’s so it wasn’t so bad. Typically the day would begin by picking a random destination and seeing what we ran into along the way. Like the aquarium for example. My friend Nicole and I headed in that direction and along the way found our very popular local hot spring area, Wakura Onsen, then a Hawaiian styled cafe that later on we found to be very tasty, called Mahalo, then another onsen once we got on Notojima, Hokuriku I think, then a Glass Art Museum, the Notojima Aquarium itself, and then afterwards we hunted down a beach on the east side of the island. It was a glorious excursion. This was just one day, by the way. Each day had similar outings. I remember one day we just started driving down 159 until we ran into something interesting. Turns out there’s a whole other mall area down there in Nakanoto. Keep going to Kahoku-shi and you get our nearest Aeon mall. That baby is massive.

A shot of the dolphin show at the Notojima Aquarium.

I hearted this octopus. He danced for us.

The heart of Nanao is well packed with little places but also has a nice vertical mall next to the station called Patria. It houses a Mister Donut (think Dunkin’ Donuts but smaller donuts), a small patisserie, omiyage shop, grocery store, department store, hyaku-en store (think Dollar Store), a stationary/random fluffy things store, and… other things I don’t remember. Usually, when in need of something, I either head there or to Nappy Mall on route 159. I know, awesome name. We giggle frequently about it. But it houses a yama-ya (foreign food store/booze), a Dontaku (grocery chain), book store, a nice sushi joint that I love (likes to pretend it’s a kaitenzushi but it’s not), a hyaku-en store, okonomiyaki restaurant, and curry restaurant. Then there’s a bridge that leads to route 2 and a whole ‘nother collection of eateries and shops… like Book-off and Coco’s Curry. Both very dangerous places.

But alas, like my boyfriend recently noted while visiting, much of what there is to do out here is spend money. Not a whole lot of activities outside of that on the surface but I think we just need to look harder for them. I’m debating about investing in (or printing out myself) a large map of the Noto Peninsula and mapping out all the cool places. I guess it would be easier to do this digitally but I enjoy having things physically present. There are lots of little parks and hidden gems all over Nanao and the Noto area. I don’t want to miss anything while I’m here >.<!! Already we found the castle ruins and the pavilion area at the top of the mountains on the edge of Nanao. Spectacular views. And the ever popular obstacle course/death trap park at the base of said mountains… can’t remember the name of it but it’s pretty big. You can rent a multiple person bicycle type thing and ride around this big track.

Let’s see… next time I think I’ll start discussing some of the school interactions like the teachers room and so on. Need to do one on food as well but see my friend Nathalie’s blog for a more in depth look at food in Japan.

With love – M

Spend the moneyz

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Shopping in Japan and building a cozy apartment.

What’s harder than shopping for your first apartment? Shopping for your first apartment in a country where you don’t really know the language. My first night in Nanao I had to wait for the gas guy and the delivery dude so I didn’t get out for dinner until almost dark. I think it was close to 7pm. So I made my way as best I could in the direction I thought would have the most civilization. Thankfully, I was right. I got to 159 and found a drug store, a bookstore/tsutaya (rental store), a Nafco (homegoods), and finally a Sunkus (conbini). I got my first real conbini bento style meal and headed home.

Thankfully, I had internet right away and was able to communicate with the other two Interac ALT’s that lived close by in this way. The following days were filled with exploration, adventures (aka getting lost and finding cool stuff accidently), and a lot of shopping. I might have different requirements than most people when it comes to necessities in my apartment so bear with me as I go through the list. Since the bedding I had ordered through Interac was not up to my Princess needs, this was at the top of my list. Nafco is where it’s at, kids. I got a nice foam pad, a cover for said pad, another plush cover on top of that since it was still cold, a bean bag sort of pillow, and a big plush blanket to go under the comforter that I had ordered. I decided not to get a regular futon set, though they were very well priced and looked warm and cozy, because I saw none that caught my fancy. I can say that I am still very happy with my purchases and the extra blankets came in handy when my boyfriend came to visit later on.

Next I was on the prowl for something for my floor. It was naked. I didn’t like the chairs in the apartment (uncomfortable to sit in, no real back to it so no lumbar support). I didn’t want sit-down seating. I wanted floor style seating. So I found a huge area rug that I liked, also washable! And a table with a floor chair that bent into different angles. I felt accomplished once it was set out. Later I found some floor pillows elsewhere that I liked and 2 shelf units with some canvas drawers. Had to put those together Ikea style but I prevailed.

     

Then I made two purchases that I probably should have waited on… but didn’t. The first was a kotatsu set. I don’t have a kotatsu. Nor do I really want one or have room for one in this little Leo Palace apartment. I also paid way more for it than I thought I was without realizing it until it was too late. I could have returned it but I got the better of myself and decided to keep it as being my one big ‘take home after I’m done’ purchase. The second was a monitor. I have a laptop that has a screen that works for the most part. It’s started to be goofy lately and sputter a lot. It drives me nuts when it does that. It was to the point where the screen had to be tilted back to a 30 degree angle. So I gave in and found a nice 23in monitor at Joshin. Love it. So much. I’ve never had a monitor so big and so clear. It was on sale of course, just like the kotatsu set was, but they were still very large purchases that perhaps could have waited until after the first paycheck. Because of this, I’m down to my last stash of moneys. This is a tale for the wise.

The actual shopping was an adventure on its own. I count myself lucky that Nafco had just about everything I needed in one place. Knowing only basic Japanese, I tried my best to communicate when needed. Thankfully, I usually didn’t need more than thank you, excuse me, and sorry. Sometimes I’d get a curve ball. I suppose it’s good practice. Just like trying to read the signs and prices correctly while still being a good shopper and compare said prices for the best deal.

These little shopping interactions were my first real interactions with Japanese people (in Japan, anyway) and they became little stepping stones of understanding. Doing a lot of shopping alone was helpful, too, because then I didn’t rely on those around me who understood Japanese better than myself. I never know what I can really do until I’m left to fend for myself, I suppose. Anyway, I was learning. I made some mistakes but all in all, I think I came out on top. If there is a top. Oh and if anyone would like a more detailed explanation of how I did with money (like how much did I bring, what was most expensive, things to watch out for and so on) please ask.

Next post: driving and what we found in the first week. Prepare yourself.

With love – M