So how easy is it to stuff enough personal belongings to last two years into two suitcases? Answer: not very. Last weekend, I did a “mock packing” just to get an idea of whether or not all the things I want to bring would actually fit into my two suitcases. I have one big one from last time I went to Japan, plus a smaller one my parents gave to me for my 18th birthday. I was really hoping to get by with just those two, but there was no way it was all going to fit.
Change of plans: I ordered a rolling duffel bag from Amazon to replace the smaller suitcase. I tried my fake packing job again, and this time…success! It looks like I will be able to bring most of what I need/want. Luckily, the apartments provided to us teachers are furnished, so I don’t have to worry about bringing any housewares or bedding. That means more room for clothes, gifts, toiletries, and a few personal items. And shoes. Japanese feet tend to run small – I’ve heard women’s size 8 is about as big as it gets. And of course, I wear 9.5. Which means I’d better bring all the shoes that I want, because I can’t count on finding any well-fitting ones over there.
There are also the cultural things to consider. For example, because Japanese people wear separate shoes (or slippers) when going inside houses and schools, I need to have separate pairs of indoor and outdoor shoes. Also, Japan is big on gift-giving, so I need to have some gifts on hand to give to people I meet, especially those who help us or are doing us favors (e.g. our employers).
On the plus side, almost all my shopping for the trip is done. That means I can spend this week (my last week here!) on final details, like organizing my room, filing my taxes, and waiting breathlessly for my visa to arrive. In many ways, it feels surreal that I have only one more week before I head to Ohio. I’m starting to get a few butterflies here and there when I think about all the upcoming changes. It’s like jumping into the deep end of a pool for the first time…you know it’s going to be scary, but you also know that you have to do it anyway. So here’s to taking plunges…