Category Archives: expat

Planes and Shuttles in D.C.

This post may be a little all over the place. I’m sick and have foggy brain and have therefore decided that spending my time blogging whilst simultaneously attempting to do some sort of festive Christmas design on my nails is a good idea. Especially given my distinct lack of artistic talent.

My mother and Step Father were in town a few weeks ago for my wedding. My father is obsessed with planes. My father-in-law is obsessed with planes. My now husband is obsessed with Space. The only logical conclusions were a family trip to Dayton or a family trip to DC to visit an air and space museum.

For my stepmother and me, the choice was easy. So we loaded up the car and we went to DC. Specifically to the National Air and Space Museum, because really, what else in DC is worth driving 7 hours each way for an overnight trip?

The museum was actually better than I expected. Much better. Probably something to do with the fact that this country is the country of NASA or something.

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The entire things was a giant hanger. It looked really impressive. it was basically divided into three wings (or whatever they are known as in hangers). One wing was commercial aviation, one was military and one was space.

ImageIt really interested me how the different planes seemed to have ways of giving them character, almost making them fun, a direct contrast of the brutal realities of the wars.

This was especially jarring when it was on the bombs. The cartoon character on the American bomb and the sakura on the Japanese bomb below struck me. They are both symbols I relate with being carefree  – the Saturday mornings of childhood and Hanami picnics welcoming in Spring.

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Kyle was happy though. He was able to stand with the space shuttle (Discovery, I believe). Apparently, when he was a child his father, who worked for NASA at the time, brought home some of the tiles used to show him and his siblings how they worked.

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After we had our fill of the museum we headed into DC proper to go to our hotel. We were so tired that we ate at the hotel restaurant and fell into bed. The next morning we didn’t have a lot of time, so we went to the White House to take the obligatory photo, and then saw part of the American History Museum before heading home. I definitely want to go back in future though, The quality of the museums is amazing!

Incidentally, we stayed at the Crowne Plaza, which we got for a steal through hotwire. I hadn’t used hotwire before, but will most definitely use again.

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Amish Country Day Two: Inside an Amish House

So. I am a bit overdue with this. In fact, I have been back to Amish country twice since the original post. Whoops.

Anyway, I figure I should on occasion finish what I started…

So, on the second day I wanted to visit an Amsih house. This was an Amish styled house – we didn’t just turn up to a random person’s house. Not this time, anyway. We took a tour of the house, the barn and the school house.

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This is the garden outside. I thought it was really quaint and pretty.

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I believe this was the washroom.

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In some Amish orders, dolls don’t have faces to avoid making graven images.Image

Bedroom. The beds looked so snuggly.ImageImage

Super glad I don’t have to try and cook  every day in a kitchen like this. On the other hand, I’ll happily eat Amish food forever…

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The craftsmanship of everything is amazing.

I really love Amish country. It is so peaceful and quiet and welcoming. I will find myself there a few times I suspect!

Exploring Amish Country – Day one

So. I have a new obsession.

Everything Amish.

I became fascinated with the Amish years ago. Watching documentaries and readng books made the Amish seem like something foreign and far away. Something I would never encounter. Therefore, I was beyond tickled pink when I found out that I now live less than an hour away from the largest Amish settlement in the world.

A couple of weeks ago, Kyle had a couple of days off, so we went to explore. We arrived in the evening and headed off to dinner. I had been told that the family dinner at Der Dutchman was not to be missed, so we decided to head there.

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We then discovered one of the biggest problems one encounters whilst driving in Amish Country  – getting stuck behind a wagon. As a result, we almost missed dinner. Thankfully, my giddy excitement over the fact that I was stuck behind a real Amish wagon meant that our moods were high regardless.

I had read about Amish food. It seemed like very simply country fare, and I naively assumed that it would therefore be bland.

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I have never been more wrong in my life. Seriously. I am still talking about the creamed corn we had. I had previously only had it from a can. That stuff is the greatest substance known to mankind.

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We finished dinner with pie. Kyle had a ground cherry pie. Ground cherries are green cherries that grow on the ground. The pie was basically everything that is good in the world.

After we were thoroughly stuffed we were forced to call it a night. Turns out Amish Country shuts down really early!

Home for a minute

I went to New Zealand for a couple  of weeks. It as grand. And cold. But not as cold as winter really should be. Still, I was just glad to be away from Japanese summer, where they had the hottest day on record. Anyway, a few photos 🙂

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My darling mother.

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Nothing says Marlborough, New Zealand more than sheep in a vineyard.

The Tokyo Files: Part 2 – Meiji Shrine

After wandering around Harajuku, I walked over to Meiji Shrine. Meiji Shrine is one of the most important shrines in Japan. It’s nestled in a very green park in the Harajuku neighbourhood, which I really enjoyed – a calming oasis in such a busy (but fantastically orderly) city.

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The torii were huge!

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So many sake barrels.

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I stumbled across a wedding! The bride was stunning.

 

Expat 2.0 = USA

Well. Yesterday was one of the most important days of my life. More than ten months after filing, I had my US fiancee visa interview.

I had it at the US embassy in Tokyo. I have literally never been somewhere so secure in my life. I had to get permission from a friendly Japanese police officer to cross the road to get to the queue to be allowed to go through the first security check. They have it set up that the only way to get to the embassy is through this crossing. After going through initial security (like airport security, but wi a few added bonuses – they take your phone!) I walked over to the consular section, where I went through another metal detector and had my bags searched, before going through to the consular lounge.

There were a number of people waiting. I was given a number, and sat down to wait to be called. The room had multiple windows, like a bank. I was called up three times – the first to look at my enormous pile of documents, secondly to get fingerprinted, and finally for the interview itself. My nerves were thankfully calmed by a little boy who befriended me. This little 5 year old boy could seriously name every station in Tokyo, and was directing me everywhere I could possibly want to go (I explained to him that I had to go tony hotel in Ikebukuro, then over to Tokyo station to catch e shinkansen home. He gave ,e correct directions, including the lines to take etc). He also absolutely insisted that he had walked by my house in semi rural Kansai, and was quite the expert at a sport that was a combination of tennis and soccer. He also spent a good 10 minutes comparing the details of the sinking of the Titanic, Britannica and a couple of other ships. Kid was smart!

Eventually it was time for my interview. It was a fairly simple process. The officer was really friendly and put me at ease. At the end of the interview I was to,d I was approved, and to expect my visa in a week or so.

OHMYGOODNESSTHISISREALLYHAPPENING!

Home.

The other day I was cleaning my apartment, when I came across my old, broken camera. I had a quick look, and discovered I’d left my SD card inside. I popped the card into my computer, and within minutes felt myself pining for home. Here’s a couple of the pictures I found, all taken on the train between Blenheim and Christchurch, a couple of days before leaving for Japan.

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Everything’s coming up roses

Well. Yesterday my health check arrived in the mail. Last night I finished filling out my last form for a while. Next weekend I will fly to Tokyo for my visa interview the following Monday. I still have a whole lot of gathering of proof our relationship is legitimate to do, but that shouldn’t be difficult, considering we communicate daily.

I’m really excited, but really nervous. Not just about the interview, but about the move itself. The US has so many awesome things to offer, but there are still cultural differences I need to learn to understand, and the usual worries that come with a big change, especially career wise – my degree is in primary teaching and the elementary job market is tough to break into. It makes me incredibly nervous. I’m working toward my masters at the moment, and I honestly don’t want it all to be in vain. All I can realistically do though is push. We’re prepared to move states if that’s what it takes to find a job. If I’m allowed to test in (depending on state), I might look at adding middle school credentials, especially in math – in New Zealand primary school lasts longer than US elementary, so my students were technically middle school aged.

It’s also the usual nerves of trying to meet people, make friends and find my niche. I plan on volunteering though, which will hopefully help. Also driving – we called the DMV in Ohio and I’m allowed to drive on my international permit for a year, which is great but terrifying – I’ve driven on the right hand side a grand total of twice in my life – the first time my friend made me switch back with him because I was driving too slowly – the second time I chose to switch because there were, gasp, other cars on the road. Even though I’ll legally be allowed to drive, I’ll go for a few practice drives around the neighbourhood with Kyle before venturing out alone!

On the plus side, I get to go to Tokyo soon :). That’s really exciting!