Thursday, February 17, 2011

Oh! What a Beautiful Morning! ...

I have been in Japan for 16 days.

On snow: Have I annoyed you enough yet about how much I love this place? Despite the snow, sleet, hail, and general cold that’s been here since my arrival, Yamato is amazing. Yes, friends, I have been trekking my lil southern raised tail to and from work and to and from the trains in the snow. As a self-proclaimed snow hater, I’ve spent my entire life bragging about how us Florida folks don’t have to deal with the inconvenience on the frozen white weather. Now that I’ve “lived” with it for a few weeks, I can say it’s not nearly as bad as I thought it was originally. Don’t get me wrong, I still despise it. Snow means that I do not get to wear my cute little flat shoes that I typically live in because getting my feet soaking wet and cold is just not an option. I have to take an umbrella with me everywhere (because that’s just what you do in the snow in Japan). It scares the bejeezus out of me when Ajax has to drive in it (since I don’t have my license yet, I still am unable to drive). But despite all the horrible things I think about snow on a regular basis here, there are some positive things about it. It makes everything gorgeous. Our backyard (the bonsai garden) turns into this dreamland when we get a few inches of snow. Another positive is that it’s so nice during the day that usually most of the snow melts by the time I got home after work.

On Driver’s Class: Yesterday I took my driver’s licensing class on Camp Zama. It was interesting. One of the biggest things to learn for driving in Japan is that YOU MAY NOT HAVE ALCOHOL IN YOUR SYSTEM! Yes, I typed that all in caps for a reason. Japan has a .03%BAC limit. That means that if you blow a .03 into a breathalyzer then you are going to get a DUI. If you blow a .05 then you get a DWI. A DUI (using me in this hypothetical situation) would get me a 1,000,000 yen (over $10k) fine and 23 days imprisonment before I even get a chance to bail or see an attorney it would also get my license in Japan revoked and as a military civilian, I would lose my SOFA status and have to move back to the states. Japanese law is just as stringent on military personnel.  There is a zero tolerance policy on drinking and driving here, which is great. And seeing how you can get anywhere in Japan by train, there is no excuse for getting DUIs. Moral of the story, if I have even one beer, I will not be driving. That can wreck your life over here.

 The building I took the class in can't spell "military."

On my job: So a lot of you still don’t know exactly what I do. I am the College Programs Coord. for a college that has campus on most major military bases in Japan (and around the world for that matter). I oversee a representatives that are located at 9 bases in mainland Japan and Guam. The reps come to me with questions about tuition costs for military members, spouses, etc as well as questions about enrollment, status, books, tests, and class schedules and instructors. I get to put together the schedule for each term (5 annually). Each term includes several face to face courses on each base as well as dozens of online courses offered that can be taken from anywhere, including from deployed ships. That’s a little bit about what I do. Thus far it’s been great. I’m learning a lot about the higher education arena and I am looking forward to learning more.

On how hungry I am right now: SO HUNGRY!
 Picture from the housewarming BBQ at the house

On Newcomer’s Orientation Class: Meh. It started today and goes through tomorrow. It was unnecessarily long and drawn out. But I did see it as a good opportunity to market the college I work for within the presentations. I’ll get right on that! Just call me Marketing Megan. :) Also, they had a Taste of Japan luncheon during the orientation... the food was horrible. It was by far the worst food I’ve had since I arrived in Japan. We’ll see if tomorrow is any more entertaining. We have the “learn how to ride the train” class tomorrow, but I’ve already got that covered.

On haircuts: Last night Ajax had to fly, so he gave me some yen to take myself out (I guess he thought it would be better to kick me out of the house than to let me “organize” more of his stuff). So I headed to Ebina... on the train... by myself. I actually made it to the right place. Which goes to show that even the blondest of blondes can survive here! I got to Ebina and walked around the city-walk area there and got the urge (I’d been putting it off for a while now) to get a haircut. I found a salon the looked nice and I knew it was going to be costly (I am in Japan, they say everything costs more here). I went inside the salon, no one spoke English but they totally understood the language of “bad hair, need cut.” She pointed to the price which equaled about $47 in American cash. Expensive for someone who is used to Aveda haircuts for $14. I did a lot of “pointy-talky” yesterday at the salon. I used pictures and they understood what I wanted. Then they took me to the hair wash station...OMG. It was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced in my life. It was unreal how amazingly wonderful that hair wash was. It was 30-40 minutes of head massaging, washing, rinsing, soaping, conditioning and more massaging. I was in heaven. Then I went back to the chair and they had two people working on me. One massaging my shoulders and one brushing out the tangles in my hair. Then Keiko began to cut my hair. She understood exactly what i needed and somehow I knew what she meant when she would try and describe something in Japanese to me. She cut it wet and dry. Then she wanted to know if it was okay to put big wavy curls in it ... heck yes. So she did it. I think I was in there a total of maybe an hour and a half. It was worth wayyyyy more than the $47 I paid for the service there. Boyfriend liked it too. :)

Awesome haircut by Keiko

Life is good!

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