Saturday, January 29, 2005

103 Days Remaining - Learning Japanese

I've just purchased a self-study book\CD combination which promises to teach you basic Japanese in 6 weeks at 45 minutes per day. We'll see how that turns out but I figure any base will help once I get in country...

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Thursday, January 27, 2005

105 days left - Just call me Chippy (as in Chipmunk)

Well I was baptized at work today, the name which stuck was "Chippy" though I kept saying I preferred Alvin... Swelling is down today, but still very noticeable. I of course milked it for all it was worth, working primarily with women does have its advantages. lol

So tomorrow I'll start looking into having myself declared a "non-resident" of Canada for income-tax purposes. This will mean I'll only need to pay 6-10% local tax instead of also having to pay canadian income taxes on my income in Japan. The form is rather long, but I'll get through it.

I'll also need to schedule some time with my contact at RBC to figure out my options for what to do with my pension plan. I get what I've put in to it, as well as what the Firm has put in to it, so it amounts to a substantial amount of cash over the 2 years I've been there. Ideally I could put it into an RRSP, from which I could then borrow for a downpayment on a house when I eventually get back? We shall see.

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Wednesday, January 26, 2005

106 days remaining - Chipmunk face

As part of my preparations for leaving for Japan, I decided it would be wise to have a full dental checkup done and fix any issues. Well that's now complete, after 2 fillings, a cleaning, a fluoride treatment and a wisdom tooth pulling... ick.

Doing well after the wisdom tooth, though the typical swelling has started and people are gonna start calling me Alvin (from Alvin and the Chipmunks of course.) Had a good rest overnight though, feelin ok now, just sore.

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Friday, January 21, 2005

111 days remaining - Time zone confusion

OK, so I haven't even left yet and I'm already messed up with my times... I was under the distinct impression that Japan was 12 hours ahead of Ottawa. Now, as I was setting up the time links you can now find at the bottom, I kept wondering why the heck the time it was giving me was wrong....

Well of course I was the one that was wrong, Japan is 14 hours ahead of Ottawa during Daylight Savings Time and 13 hours ahead during Standard Time. So there you go. I guess this means I won't have to get up quite as early to talk to people here. Optimal time should be 7PM-9PM which for me would mean 9AM-11AM... not too shabby.

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Tuesday, January 18, 2005

114 days remaining - and damn cold in Ottawa

Just thought I'd post a temperature perspective here...

Ottawa this morning: -27 degrees with a windchill of -40
High for the day in Ottawa: -21 degrees

Utsunomiya this morning: 3 degrees
High for the day in Utsunomiya: 8 degrees

Where do I want to be right now? I realize it ain't Barbados, but 8 is certainly better than -40...

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Friday, January 14, 2005

118 days left - Not much going on

My paperwork is on it's way to Japan for aproval, I'm officially an employee of AEON Corp, I've made pretty much all the travel related purchases I'll need... except for 3-4 more suits...

So for Christmas, my parents got me the most amazing garment bag. It's made by Samsonite, kind of a hard case but soft at the same time, holds 5 suits. Will make my travels much easier.

Click on this LINK to check it out.

They also got me a large suitcase to match my medium one I got last year for our trip to Orlando. So I'm all set as far as baggage goes.

I also got a bunch of great books from some different people. Some about Japan, some about teaching ESL. Should be a great help:
  • From my godmother Doris, I got the Lonely Planet guidebook to Japan. This is the most amazing series ever! It's so detailed that you can get off the train in Tokyo, crack open the book and find places to eat\sleep\party\read\etc. within minutes.
  • From Sherry, I got Japanese at a Glance, an excellent Japanese Phrase book which also incorporates an English-Japanese dictionary. Should be quite handy, I'll have to start teaching myself some basics pretty soon.
  • Sherry also got me Teaching Kids to Read for Dummies, which should be a great help as well as Teaching English as a Foreign Language which is also amazing.
  • AEON also sent me a book titled The Japanese Way which details many of the things which I will find different once I get to Japan.
  • These are added to the library I had started to accumulate myself: Lonely Planet's guide to Travel Photography, Living Abroad in Japan by Ruthy Kanagy as well as A First Book of Japanese Cooking, which includes pictures of the packaging of some of the stuff I'll be encountering which is great.

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Wednesday, January 05, 2005

126 days left - Booked Flight

Finally got in touch with the Japan Travel Bureau ( today, spoke with Ginko Maeda and booked my tickets for my departure May 12th.

I'll be flying with American Airlines, leaving from Ottawa, stopping in Chicago and proceeding to Tokyo.

On the Ottawa - Chicago leg, I'll be flying in an Embraer 745 Regional Jet like this one:

For the Chicago - Tokyo leg, I'll be on a Boeing 777 like this one:

My detailed itinerary is as follows:

May 12th - 6:20AM EST
Depart Ottawa on American Airlines Flight 4308 for Chicago - Flight time: 2h 15min
May 12th - 8:35AM EST (7:35AM Chicago time)
Arrive Chicago O'Hare International Airport - Layover time: 3hr 30min
May 12th - 12:05PM EST (11:05 Chicago time)
Depart Chicago on American Airlines Flight 153 for Tokyo - Flight time 12hr 55min
May 13th - 1:00AM EST (2:00PM Tokyo Time)
Arrive Tokyo Narita International Airport - Met and picked up at airport by AEON Corporation Staff and taken to a Hotel in Omiya where I will begin my training on May 14th.

Time zones crossed: 12
Kilometers flown: 11,168
Total Travel Time: 18 hours and 40 minutes
Total Flight Time: 15 hours and 10 minutes

I got a really good deal on my flight too... I think so anyway. Total price with taxes is $822CAD as opposed to the $1864 USD which American is charging if I book directly through them for the exact same flight!!! I even took a screenshot to prove it... lol Anyone thinking of flying to Japan should definately check out the Japan Travel Bureau using the link I put in at the top of this post.

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Monday, January 03, 2005

128 days left - Booking airline tickets tomorrow

Well here we are, the holidays just about over, enjoying the last few hours of freedom before heading back to work in the morning.

A new year has begun, and every time someone has wished me Happy New Year, I've thought: "Well yes, I'm sure it will be!"

In 128 days, I will be boarding a plane to Narita International Airport near Tokyo. Assuming all goes well with the travel agent tomorrow, I should know exactly what time I'll be leaving\arriving and which connections I'll be making. I think once the flight is booked, it'll start being more real for me.

Anywho, that's it for tonight, CSI Miami just opened up with a Gang shooting in an ER! FUN! I will certainly miss our lovely TV shows while I'm away... maybe if I find a bar with satelite, they'll let me watch my shows???


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