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)




13 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Alvaro
    Aug 13, 2010 @ 17:45:44

    hey! just record all your CDs in you Macbook silly!!

    Japan is so clean that u can even eat from the ground XD!!
    so dont worry about it! everything is too clean sometimes!

    see you soon!


  2. Nicola Mirams
    Aug 13, 2010 @ 20:23:01

    Wow! That airport is in the sea.

    *sleepy* so apologies for non-exciting comment. I think that the waiting is always the worst and once you get there you wonder why you worried. Hope you manage to sort your camera dilemma – has anyone got a spare one you could borrow?


  3. Andrew
    Aug 13, 2010 @ 20:34:57

    About the clothing, I’m pretty sure that Osaka gets kinda chilly in winter time. I just did a quick check of temperatures online and it seems that Osaka in winter can hit the low 30s or so for an average temperature. For me, coming from Wisconsin, I’ll be warm all year 😛 But coming from Egypt might prove to be a different story. Here’s a quick breakdown of temperatures in Osaka: (You can change from F to C in the upper-right corner)


    And as for shoes… The stores top off around size 9 US. I’ll have a problem, being a size 12-13 US, but you should be just fine.


  4. Dina
    Aug 13, 2010 @ 21:40:12

    Alvaro, since you’re the experienced one among us, I will have to ask you to help me shop for a camera and a cellphone 🙂 And hey! I LOVE eating from the ground… lol

    Nicki, waiting is blueh *feels sick*… I think I have settled on using the camera in my cellphone. The phone itself won’t be working there, but I thought to take it to be able to use the camera and also because it has all my numbers. But hopefully I will be able to buy a new one within a day or two!

    Andrew, I have always been a winter fan! But here in Egypt it seldom gets any cooler than 18C, and rain is as scarce as hens’ teeth, so cheers to you for feeling nice and warm all year round 😉 Thanks for the chart, I think I have an idea what to expect in Osaka – but I read that weather varies dramatically across Japan, so if we’re gonna travel around, that might prove tricky!


  5. Jasmine
    Aug 13, 2010 @ 22:32:48

    Oh man, how are you already packing?! I haven’t even started! Hahaha actually I’ve been mentally packing in my mind what to bring. 🙂 I think they will definitely have your shoe size there. It’s mine that needs to be worried about XD a whopping US Womens size 9 *nervous laughter*

    I should look into shots. I haven’t gotten any, which worries me lol. Also for photos, what you do is to have other people take photos with you in it! 😀 Then tag you on Facebook then bam. You’re set for the arrival stuff part! See you there soon 🙂


  6. Dana
    Aug 13, 2010 @ 22:43:49


    I maaaay be able to help out in the laptop area. Are you looking to install Apple branded ram into your computer? There are a few sites that have ram for cheap and and installing it is pretty easy as long as you have a screw driver. Apple ram is the same as any other ram you can buy, except that it is more expensive.

    Packing, ugh. My weight restriction is 23kg, but we are allowed two bags. But I have the tendency to over pack clothes. My nightmare is one of my bags going missing 😦


  7. Dina
    Aug 13, 2010 @ 23:32:32

    No don’t get me wrong! I haven’t started the actual packing, yet. All’s mental here too 😀 I think my “plan” is to get it done a few hours before leaving. Procrastination is my middle name!

    Laptop stuff – Thank you, Dana! 🙂 I am hoping I get it done at my university, free of charge, I just need to figure out how much it will stay hostage there. If it doesn’t work out, I’ll definitely look into one of these sites.


  8. Ahmed Shaheen
    Aug 14, 2010 @ 22:13:15

    Oooh cool airport!! I’m looking forward to reading your next post and about what your plans for the long layover. I might be going throught the same situation but in JFK airport NYC.


  9. Dahlia
    Aug 15, 2010 @ 15:32:00

    On-plane pictures are lame. Take everything, then buy more from there.


  10. Hany
    Aug 15, 2010 @ 20:22:21

    Dina.. for your camera problem if it still stands.. and till you get your new one from Japan you can use your mobile’s cam.. temporarily.. we’ll miss you Dina!! Take it easy.


  11. Alvaro
    Aug 16, 2010 @ 04:03:41

    Cellphones are easy, cameras depends on the budget 😀

    yeah we can go sometime to the super Mega store of Yodoyabashi Camera in Umeda.


  12. Maha el Kholy
    Apr 06, 2011 @ 00:44:39

    Love it 🙂


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