I thought to write a post since it is only 7 hours before my plane takes off… The fact that I don’t have time at all but still writing gives a glimpse of hope that I’ll remain faithful to this blog while in Japan.

Things are fine, I guess. I managed to get done with packing by sunrise (!) after several attempts of removing/substituting stuff inorder to bring the weight of my suitcase down to 20 kilograms. To say that it has been mission impossible would be an understatement.

I am still “overweight” by a couple of kilos, but, seriously, taking out more stuff is simply not an option anymore. I have almost no wintery clothes except for two pullovers, my AUC sweater and a rain coat.

It’s good, though, because now I have a great excuse for some Osaka money-spending!

My family are still hanging in there, providing all the help I can think (and can’t think) of. Last night, however, my sister came to sleep in my room, cried a bit and it broke my heart… My friends are amazingly supportive, too, and as time for leaving draws nearer, I realize how much I will really miss having them in my everyday life.

One thing the past two weeks succeeded to do, is showing me how my family and friends really care about me – which I have obviously been underestimating for a long time (like I do with everything else?) Of course, I always knew they did, I mean, that’s the way things go with everyone, right? But I just feel so touched by the unconditional love, support and care I have been receiving from everyone I know. It the kind of thing that makes you stop and think and  re-evaluate your views on how important the people in your lives are, especially if you’re a loner like me.

It’s ok to be a loner – just know that some people would do anything to make you happy.

On-flight reading is ready! This time I decided to go Arabic: Yusuf Edrees and Al Tayeb Saleh. I am still undecided about what I should put on my music player. Will probably go with Medtner’s three piano concertos (Demidenko <3), Keith Jarrett’s Bremen and Lausanne solo concerts, and couple of albums from each: the Beatles, Pink Floyd, Rory Gallagher, Chris Rea and Joe Cocker.

Too much? I don’t think so.

Of course, of course, of course I will NOT sleep on the plane. I have troubles sleeping more than 4 hours in my own bed, so clearly falling asleep on a vehicle flying at 45,000 feet is not really my thing.

Egypt, that’s it… Sayoonara… And in the words of Julie Andrews: So long, farewell, Auf wiedersehen, good night; Adieu, adieu, to yieu and yieu and yieu…

And in my words: Salaam, ya Masr…

On Plans (or the lack thereof)

I’m not good with planning stuff. Long term plans, I mean. Probably not because I have trouble with commitments (I do, to an extent), nor is it because I give up easily. Sometimes, I think it is because I change my mind, a lot. But most of the times, I think it’s because it is the nature of things to change.

I can still do a phenomenal job laying out a plan: plans for outings with friends, weekends by the beach, meal plans for the week, reading plans for the month, studying plans before finals. On paper, or on the word document saved on my desktop, my plans will look amazing. Organized, logical, systematized, and capable of adapting to external variables while still maintaining their structure.

But they are all short-term plans;

  • How many additional calories will Saturday’s dinner out involve and what should I do accordingly?
  • Should we invite X along for our Thursday study group or will her grim-like disposition be a menace that will leave us grim-faced and 3 chapters behind?
  • How many pages should I read from David Foster’s Wallace ‘Infinite Jest’ in order to finish it in one month (bearing in mind diminished reading hours on Thursdays, potential headaches and too-lazy-to-read-or-digest-DFW moments)?
  • If  I wake up at 7, have a 7-minute shower, prepare a hard-boiled egg in 8 minutes, put it in a sandwich for breakfast on the go, will I be able to reach the bus stop before 7:24, when the school bus will pass by?
  • If I am going to run on the treadmill for 30 minutes, how should I arrange my playlist so as to perfectly fit, climax at the last ten minutes, with additional 2 minutes for warm up and 2 minutes for cool down?

But ask me to tell you what my plans are for my future and I am at a loss. When I was 14 I wanted to be a professional musician, and now I am a journalism major who’s not willing to work in journalism. When I applied for study abroad I wanted to go to the United States for a year, and now I am going to Japan for a year.

Get it?

So, my point is, I don’t think I am doing a great job when it comes to planning for my year in Japan. I mean, aside from packing issues, money spending issues and university issues, I have no plans and no scenarios  for my year come to mind. In five days I will embark on the most amazing thing I have done in this life of mine and I am clueless. For someone who prides herself in being obsessive about pre-work out playlist plans, being clueless about how to make the best out of a year in Japan is certainly not comforting.

2028... I have plans ready for that, too...

Why “Cakewalk” is Another Word for “Getting Ready”…

No, I’m lying. Getting ready is not a cakewalk. Not by a long shot.

So, according to the countdown timer on my desktop, only 13 days, 8 hours and 00 minutes remain before I take my seat on the Airbus A340 taking me to Osaka. I have started what I have come to call “the Japan process” months ago, but only now it seems real.

Am I ready?

That’s really hard to answer. Emotionally, I am excited but scared, which is normal. Financially, I think I am set. The JASSO scholarship represents a HUGE boost in that department, but I am still working on figuring out the “exceptional” expenses of the first two weeks. Mentally, *coughs* I am trying my best… Other stuff:

Visa: Check.

Plane ticket*: Check.

Health Insurance: I am planning to get Japanese insurance once I arrive, but since it takes about a month to be issued, I got myself an international 45-day insurance certificate. So, check.

Vaccinations: The only “recommended” vaccination that I am supposed to take before going to Japan, according to the WHO website, is the vaccination against the Japanese Encephalitis (Yes, I think it is made up too). When I went to the Holding Company for Biological Products & Vaccines headquarters to get the shot, the doctor there told me that they don’t have the Japanese Encephalitis vaccine in Egypt…

“But you know what? You can take Hepatitis A if you want.” He said, as if we’re in the fruit market, where tangerine is a good compensation for not finding oranges..

Tangerine, oranges, avocado, Hep A, Japanese Encephalitis.. What the hell, I thought… Better than nothing. I took the shot in my left arm and it still hurts.

Now I can safely eat street  food…

Bank stuff: Still working on it. I have to make sure that my MasterCard will be working in Japan. I thought it was an easy process that a 2 minute call to the call center would solve, but boy was I wrong! Thankfully, people on the KGU group on facebook told me that it should work just fine, as long as it is an international card. And I still have to get myself some of that Yen…

Laptop: YAY! My Macbook is purchased and should arrive within a couple of days. After I get it, I want to install Windows 7 (to switch back and forth with little hassle), install the Mac VPN, and upgrade my RAM to 4 GB. I still don’t know whether I can find a place that can get all this done in a day or two.

Camera: Rest in Peace.

The inconvenient truth is that my camera died at the most inconvenient time. “You can get one in Japan, silly!” I hear you say, which is true. But what about on-plane pictures? What about first-glance-of-Japan pictures? What about airport pictures? What about arrival pictures?

Maybe I’m crazy (hell, I AM crazy) but I do want to take lots of pictures while in Japan. I don’t go live alone for a year in faraway countries that often, you know.

PACKING: Tricky, that one.

I just don’t know how to do it. How am I supposed to know what I will need/not need for a year? If it were for me, I’d take every single thing in my room, including my 5639866568582869 books and 827458720652857 CDs – but I just can’t. Twenty kgs is my limit. TWENTY KILOGRAMS! Should I take summer clothes and no winter clothes? Should I take winter clothes and no summer clothes? Should I take boots or only sandals? Should I take sandals and get boots from there? Will my shoe size (US 7 1/2) actually be there?  Should I take nothing and get everything from there? Should I take everything and get nothing from there?

Of course I will find everything in Japan (except for stick deodorant), but I worry too much, and the ever lasting “what if I don’t find [insert object]” keeps ringing like a siren in my ears.

I did prepare my wardrobe, though, which is an achievement. The process was too intense that I think I lost a couple of pounds by the end of the three-hour wardrobe preparing frenzy. It also made me realize that I’m a sucker when it comes to shopping, because I buy things I don’t want and things I don’t need more than I buy things I actually use.


On another note, I have been reading more and more Japanese literature. Over the summer I read two ground-breaking Yukio Mishima short story collections, two amazing Kenzaburo Oe novels, and as for Murakami, I have re-read The Elephant Vanishes, Kafka on the Shore and currently reading Norwegian Wood (which I am absolutely loving…)

I am really glad I am back to reading fiction after I had stopped since high school, thinking fiction was a waste of time. It teaches me things….

*Before I forget: I have changed my flight date from August 31st to August 26th. As a result, I will have to spend one night at the Kansai International Airport, on my own, waiting for the KGU shuttle to take me to the dormitory the following morning. I will tell you of my plans for the layover next post.

Kansai International Airport (KIX)



One Little Problem…

Solve the following problem and win ¥1,000,000 my admiration —


  • D will go to Japan for  a year.
  • D wants to go to Japan for a year.
  • Things will happen here while D is in Japan for a year.
  • D doesn’t want to miss any of the things that will happen here while she’s in Japan for a year.

It might be useful for you to know that when two lines plans intersect, opposite desires are equal and the sum of adjacent angles wishes is complementary.

Directions for writing proofs:

  • Proofs may be written informally using plain English, Arabic or French (too early to include Japanese).
  • Just be sure to include all the steps in your reasoning, or at least all the key steps.
  • Providing a diagram is very helpful but not required.


Now, seriously, I think when one is embarking on a big adventure or a life-changing experience, one goes through several phases: contemplation, planning, excitement, anxiety, worry, etc etc. And it’s a cycle that repeats itself. One day you’ll wake up worried, questioning whether the choices you’ve made were right or not, the next morning you might wake up with frizzy hair from all the energy and the excitement and the positive charges in your head. In all cases, you can’t really control it.

For the last week or so, particularly since the day I got my visa, my sleeping patterns have not been that stable. I have been an insomniac since I was 16, so when I say that my sleeping patterns are “not stable”, an “I-don’t-sleep-at-all” should be implied.

I go to bed around 2 am, and I wake up around 5 am. I wake up completely fresh, not tired at all, and actually looking forward to spending a good day.


Because the moment I “wake up”, my brain is automatically alerted that one more day of waiting for my Cairo-Osaka flight has been crossed out from the calendar on my wall.

Now, I am slowly but surely entering the I-am-scared-like-shit phase. I am scared things might go wrong. I am scared I might run out of money. I am scared my Japanese skills (?) will let me down.  I am scared I will miss my family. I am scared my friends will forget me. I am scared my cat won’t recognize me when I get back home next June.  I am scared I will NOT want to come back.

Some of these things have never crossed my mind before, especially the “family and friends” part. People close to me know that I’m quite independent and that if there’s one thing I know for sure about my future, it’s that I don’t want to spend it here in Egypt. So to be scared of missing people here, that’s new.

I just did it again. This is supposed to be a fun blog and here I am blogging about non-fun things.

If you read all that and still solve the problem and write a sound proof, I’ll take you out for a drink, after -of course- you’ve won my admiration.

August 2010
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