Life In Japan: Week One is Done!

22 May

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Oh my gosh, I am so sorry!  I swore to myself that I would keep this blog updated as I went about my trip and I totally screwed up. I just realized I haven’t posted in weeks, and I sincerely apologize!  Everything has just been so incredibly hectic.  But I hereby promise that from now on I will keep everything updated and going, and I will get up the stuff I haven’t posted on.

The trip getting here was one problem after another; if I didn’t know better I’d swear a poltergeist was working against me.

It started when I started working on getting my Chinese visa. The school I am traveling with did not realize that to apply, all the students would need copies of a “letter of invitation” from someone in China inviting us to the country and a copy of the hotel reservation & flight reservation. It took forever to get ahold of that and then there was the process of applying itself.  You cannot mail in the application for the visa, but you can have someone else go to the embassy in your place; ergo the innumerable “Visa companies” that help you with the application. Supposedly you are supposed to send them all the paperwork and they will send someone to the embassy to apply for you. But in return, they want more time and lots of money; neither of which I had. So off I went to the Chinese Embassy in Chicago (5 hours away) right in the middle of finals. Their website said that if you get there before 11:30 a.m. you could pick it up on the same day, but they failed to mention that you had to turn it in before that time.  To turn it in you have to physically hand it over. I arrived there at 10:15 and found that I was 40+ people deep in line. To say the least, I missed the 11:30 deadline.  They all break for lunch, at which point the Hard Rock Cafe charged me three times for my lunch thus tying up more than $50 of my money (they charged my card for my lunch, someone else’s lunch, and a second time for my lunch).  Then I returned only to learn at the desk that I had to leave and buy an express envelope.  Needless to say, it was a very long day and took forever.  Then the embassy lost my passport and paperwork, stating that it had been mailed when it hadn’t.  It took calling my senator who called someone else who called someone else before we stopped the postal service and got it the day before I left the country. All this right in the middle of Final Exams.  Arrgghh!!

It really was just one thing after another.  United Airlines was incredibly rude, put me in one line and then ran me around until I was at the back of 3 other lines; then charged me an extra $60+ for my bags (despite the law that says that the airline who you travel with the longest has the controlling baggage fee price) because I bought my tickets with 2 separate companies even though it was the same trip.  Then, TSA broke my suitcase (they broke off the zipper, handed it to me, and sent me on my way) so I had to buy a new suitcase.

THEN (yes, it kept going), I arrived too late to take my shuttle at Osaka, so I had to sleep in KIX airport. Honest to God, they turned off the lights, locked all the doors, everyone left, I was the only person in the airport besides the cleaner guy.  It was very scary and strange.

But, the next morning I made my shuttle, I got from Osaka to Kyoto, and I finally arrived at my hotel, only to learn that I have the prettiest view from my hotel room balcony!  You can see picks below.  So I am here, and I will keep everyone up to day! Hooray!

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